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Henrij W. Sage 

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Cornell University Library 
VA55.B47 S9 

The steam navy of the United States 


3 1924 030 755 361 

Cornell University 

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the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 


. . OF THE . . . 















. 1 

Introductory _,. 


The Dkmologos, or Fulton, the First Steam War Vessel ever Built— Robert 
Fulton— The Sea Gull— The Fulton, 2d— Mr, Chas. H. Haswell, the 
First Engineer in the United States Navy— Captain M. C. Perry's Rec- 
omendations Regarding Engineers' Force— Regulations Governing Ap- 
pointment of Engineers— Performance of the Fulton Under Steam— 
Her Subsequent Career— Captain Perry's Interest in Engineers 8 


The Engineer— The Mississippi and Missouri— Establishment of the Engineer 
Corps by Act of Congress— Destruction of the Missouri— Career of the 
Mississippi— Steamers Transferred to the Navy from the War Depart- 
ment — The Michigan f % t 32 


Experiments with the "Hunter Wheel" — The Union— The Water Witch— 

The Alleghany — The Stevens Battery .; 48 


Introduction of the Screw Propeller— John Ericsson—The Princeton, and Her 
Remarkable Engine— Great-Gun Accident on the Peinceton and Con- 
sequent Breach of Friendship Between Ericsson and Captain Stockton 
— Subsequent Career of the Princeton gx 


Reorganization of the Engineer Corps— Case of Chief Engineer C. B. Moss- 
All Assistant Engineers Examined and Rearranged According to Pro- 
ficiency—Laws and Regulations Affecting the Engineer Corps from 1845 
to 1850 — Resignation of Chief Engineer John Faron, Jr 75 


The War With Mexico— Naval Operatians i.n California— Important Service of 
Surgeon William Max well Wood— Blockade of ! the Gulf Coast— Commo- 
dore Perry and the Mississippi— Valuable Professional Service of Engi- 
neer-in-Chief Haswell — Bombardment of Vera Cruz — "Alvarado Hun- 
ter "—Steamers Bought for Temporary Service — Naval Engineers En- 
gaged in the Mexican War — Results of the War 88 


New Steamers Authorized for the Navy in 1847 — The Susquehanna, Pow- 
hatan, Saranac, and San Jacinto — Mr. Haswell Succeeded as Engineer- 
in-Chief by Charles B. Stuart — Circumstances Connected with Mr. Has- 
well's Leaving the Navy — His Great Services to the Naval Engineer 
Corps — His Subsequent Career 102 


The Expedition to Japan and Treaty with that Country— Services of Engineers 
in the Expedition — Value of Steamers in Impressing the Japanese — 
Other Naval Affairs in the Far East .*., ,,,...,.., 12G 




End of the Experimental Period and Beginning of the Creationary Period of 
the American Steam Navy— The Franklin— The Mbeeimac Class of 
Steam Frigates— The Niagara— Services of Chief Engineer Everett in 
Connection with the Atlantic Cable Laid by the Niagara— The Hart- 
ford Class of Large Screw Sloops— Mr. Archbold Succeeds Mr. Martin 
as Engineer-in-Chief— The Mohican Class— The Pawnee— The Paraguay 
Expedition— Small Steamers Purchased for the Navy — Project to Con- 
vert Old Line-of-Battle-Ships into Steam Frigates 137 

The Engineer Corps from 1850 to the Beginning of the Civil War— Congress 
Petitioned to Increase the Corps — Pay Increased by United Effort of all 
Officers— Bank of Engineers Denned— New Regulations Governing 
Appointment and Promotion Issued — Opinions of Chief Engineer Gay 
in Relation of Sails and Steam 177 

The Civil War 193 

1861— The Civil War, Continued— Engineers and Steam Vessels in the Navy 
at the Outbreak of Hostilities— Resignation and Dismissal of Officers — 
Chief Engineer B. F. Isherwood Appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the 
Navy — Increase of the Engineer Corps— Qualifications of the Volunteer 
Engineers — Remarkable Career of Don Carlos Hasseltino — Vesseta Ad- 
ded to the Fleet During the Year. — The Kearsearge and Canandaigua 
Classes of Steam Sloops — The Ninety-Day Gunboats— The First Double- 
Enders 201 

1861— The Civil War, Continued— The Norfolk Navy Yard— Attempt to Save 
the Frigate Merrimac — Endeavors of Engineer-in-Chief Isherwood — 
Destruction of the Yard — Attack on Hatteras Inlet — Destruction of the 
Privateer Judah at Pensacola , 230 

1861— The Civil War, Continued— Expedition of Flag Officer DuPont to Port 
Royal — Loss of the Governor — Naval Battle at Port Royal — Killing of 
Assistant Engineer Whittemore on the Mohican— Affair of the Trent... 245 


1861— The Civil War, Continued— The First American Iron Clads— The Ste- 
vens Battery Condemned by a Board of Naval Officers— Authority to 
Build Armored Vessels Conferred by Act of Congress— Report of Board 
on Iron Clad Vessels— The Galena, New Ironsides, and Monitor— 
Armored Vessels on the Mississippi River 262 


1862— The Civil War, Continued— Capture of Roanoke Island and Elizabeth 
City— The Merrimac and Her Raid— Destruction of the Congress and 
Cumberland— The Monitor Completed and Commisioned— Her Chief 
Engineer, Isaac Newton— Voyage of the Monitor from New York and 
Her Arrival in Hampton Roads 286 


1862— The Civil War, Continued— First Fight of Iron Clads— Effects of the 
Battle— Extraordinary Services Rendered by Chief Engineer Stimers— 
Attack on Drury's Bluff— The Galena Badly Injured— Gallantry of 
Assistant Engineer J. W.Thomson „.„ 30j 



1862 — The Civil War, Continued — Naval Operations in the Mississippi River 
— Battles Below New Orleans— Catastrophe to the Mound City — Attack 
on Vicksburg — Warfare on the Atlantic Coast — Wreck of the Adieon- 
sack — Loss of the Monitor— Peril of the Passaic— Heroism of Assistant 
Engineer H. W. Robie 318 


1862 — The Civil War, Continued — Increase of the Navy— Steamers Purchased 
Mississippi Flotilla Transferred to the Navy Department — Steam Ves- 
sels of War Placed Under Construction — The Passaic Class of Monitors 
— The Dictator and Puritan— The Miantonomoh Class— Other Moni- 
tors — The Keokuk — The Dunderberg — Legislation Regarding the Navy 
— Retired|List Established — Creation of the Bureau of Steam Engineer- 
ing— Perisions 337 


1863 — The Civil War, Continued — Disasters at Galveston — Loss of the Colum- 
bia — Raid of Rebel Rams off Charleston — Loss of the Isaac Smith — The 
Florida, and Her Pursuit by the Sonoma — Investment of Washington, 
North Carolina — Assembling of Ironclads off Charleston — Remarkable 
Breakdown and Repairs to the Machinery of the Weehawken — Attack on 
Fort McAllister — First Attack on Fort Sumter — Destruction of the 
Keokuk — The Atta/nta-Weehawken Duel — Protracted Investment of the 
Charleston Forts by the Monitors — Sinking of the Weehawhen 362 


1863— The Civil War, Continued — The War on the Western Waters — Passage 
of Port Hudson — Destruction of the Frigate Missiisirpi — Minor Opera- 
tions in the West — New Vessels Placed Under Construction — The 
Light-Draft Monitors — Iron Double-Enders— Large Wooden Frigates 
and Sloops-of-War— The First Swift Cruisers— The Kalamazoo Class 
of Monitors — Assimilated Rank of Staff Officers Raised — New Regu- 
lations Governing Promotion in the Engineer Corps Issued 384 


1863 — The Civil War, Continued — Controversy as to the Efficiency of Iron- 
Clads — Rear Admiral DuPont Reports Adversely to Them— Chief Engi- 
neer Stimers Reports in Their Favor — Rear Admiral DuPont Prefers 
Charges Against Chief Engineer Stimers — The Case Investigated by a 
Court of Inquiry— Vindication of Mr. Stimers 403 


1864— The Civil War, Continued — Confederate Successes in the Use of Torpedoes 
— Blowing Up of the Sloop of War Housatonio— Minor Naval Operations 
— Boiler Explosion on the Chenango — The Keabsargk- Alabama Fight — 
The Great Battle in Mobile Bay— Loss of the Tecumseh — Capture of the 
Privateer Florida by the Wachxtsett — The Gunboat Otsego Sunk by a 
Torpedo— First Attack on Fort Fisher 423 


1864 — The Civil War, Continued — Naval Operations in the North Carolina 
Sounds — The Ram Albemable— Sinking of the Southfield and defeat of 
the Miami — The Naval Battle of May Fifth — Disaster to the Sassacus and 
Heroism of Her Chief Engineer — Daring Attempt of Enlisted Men to De- 
stroy the Ram — Her Destruction by Lieutenant Wni. B. Gushing — Battle 
and Capture of Plymouth — Prize Money Distributed on Account of the 
Albemarle ,.„„,„,„„.,„,, ,.,.. 447 




1864— The Civil War, Continued— New Ships and Machinery Begun— The 
Serapis Class — The Resaca Class — Competitive Machinery of the QtriN- 
nebauq and Swatara — The Stromboli, or Spuyten Duyvil — The Light- 
Draft Monitors — Petition of the Engineer Corps Addressed to Congress 
and its Results 474 


1865— The Civil War, Concluded— Loss of the San Jacinto— Second Attack 
on Fort Fisher— The Patapsco Destroyed by a Torpedo— Charleston 
Abandoned by the Confederates — The Monitors Milwaukee and Osage 
Sunk — Loss of the Sciota and Ada — Restoration of Peace — Some Naval 
Lessons of the War— Armed Merchant Vessels Unsuited for Operations 
of War — Casualities of the Engineer Corps During the Rebellion 495 


Competitive Trials of Steam Machinery — The Nipsic and Kansas — Failure of 
the Saco — The Famous Algonquin-Winooski Controversy — Performance 
of the Idaho — Her Success as a Sailing Ship — Trial Trip of the Chatta- 
nooga— Trial of the Madawaska — Comparative Table of Results of 
Trials of the Idaho, Chattanooga, Madawaska and Wampanoag — 
Subsequent Career of the Madawaska, or Tennessee 514 


The Trial Trip of the Wampanoag— Remarkable Speed Developed— Official 
Reports of Commanding Officer and Board of Chief Engineers— At- 
tempt of the Press to Discredit Her Performance — Her Success Verified 
by the Trial of the Ammonoosuc — The Real Reasons for Building Swift 
Cruisers During the Civil War — The Wampanoag Condemed by a 
Board of Naval Officers — Her Subsequent Career. 353 


Some Naval Eyenis After the Civil War — The Voyage of the Monadnock to 
California— The Miantonomoh Visits Europe — The Mohongo in a 
Pampero— Loss of the Narcissus— Yellow Fever on the Kearsakgk 
and Muscoota— Wreck, of the Sacramento — Earthquakes and Tidal 
Waves— Wreck of the Suwanee— The Affair of the Forward— Loss of 
the Oneida— Wreck of the Saginaw 584 


Condition of the Engineer Corps after the War— Resignations— The Question of 
Brevet Rank— First and Second Assistant Engineers Become Commissioned 
Officers— Chief Engineer J. W. King Appointed Engineer-in-CMef— Sweep- 
ing Reduction in Rank of Staff Officers— Use of Steam Discontinued on 
Ships of War— The Pay Act of 1870— The Act of 1871 603 


Shipbuilding Progress in the Navy, 1865-1880— The Alaska and Class-Cap- 
tured Blockade-Runners— Sale of Monitors— Rebuilding of the Mian- 
tonomoh Class— The Puritan— The New Swatara and Class— Com- 
pound Engines-Chief Engineer Wood Appointed Engineer-in-Chief— 
Costly Experiments with Two-Bladed Propellers— The Alert Class of 
Iron Gunboats— The Enterprise Class— The Trenton— The Nipsic— 
The Despatch— The Alarm and Intrepid ' 622 


The Training of Naval Engineers at the Naval Academy 652 




Steam Vessels of the United States Navy in the Arctic Ocean — The Polaris 
Expedition — Cruise of the'JuNiATA and Tigbess — The Jeannette Ex- 
pedition — Retreat on the Ice — Heroism and Fortitude of Chief Engi- 
neer Melville — Voyage and Loss of the Rodgehs — Naval and Congres- 
sional Investigations Into the Loss of the Jeannette — The Greely 
Belief Expedition — Tardy Promotion of Chief Engineer Melville for 
Heroism Displayed in the Jeannette Expedition 679 


Uniforms and Corps Devices of the Engineer Corps 713 


The Connection of the Naval Engineer Corps with Technical Education in 
the United States — Engineers Detailed to Colleges by Authority of 
Congress — Success of the Experiment — Its Discontinuance 732 


Brief Mention of Events of Engineering Interest Since 1872— Peril of the Man- 
hattan — Titles of Assistant Engineers Changed— Chief Engineer Wm. 
H. Shock Appointed Engineer-in-Chief — Loss of the Huron — Cruise of 
the Marion to Heard Island — Reduction of Engineer Corps in 1882 — 
Case of the Discharged Cadet Engineers— Wreck of the Ashuelot — 
Longevity Pay for Passed Assisant Engineers— Chief Engineer C. H. 
Loring Succeeds Mr. Shock as Engineer-in-Chief — Naval Disaster at 
Samoa — Naval Engineers at the Columbian Exposition and Midwinter 
— Fair Loss of the Kearsarge — Casualty on the Monterey 744 


The New Navy— Naval Advisory Boards — First Acts of Congress Providing for 
the Rebuilding of the Navy — The Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and 
Dolphin — The Newark, Yorktown, and Petrel — The Charleston — 
The Texas, Maine, and Baltimore — The Dynamite-Gun Cruiser — The 
Montebey — The Philadelphia and San Francisco — Chief Engineer 
George W. Melville Appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy 771 


The New Navy, Continued— The New York and Olympia— The Detroit Class 
— The Cincinnati and Raleigh — The Bancroft, Castine and Machias 
— The Ainmen Rain — Coast-Line Battle-Ships — The Ericsson — The 
Columbia — Her Remarkable Voyage Across the Atlantic Ocean — The 
Minneapolis— The Bbookltn and Iowa — New Torpedo Boats and Gun- 
boats — The New Kearsarge 809 


Conclusion 845 


An Alphabetical List of the Names of All Members of the Regular Corps of the 

Navy from the Introduction of Steam to the Present Day 853 


List of Steam Vessels of War of the United States, with Principal Data Regard- 
ing them and a Brief Synopsis of Service ; Arranged in Chronological 
Order 893 


" Uncle Samuel's Whistle and What it Costs ;" An Illustrated Satire of the Old 
Navy „ , 919 


HAVING completed this work, the author desires to express his 
thanks to many friends and acquaintances whose assistance, 
given in the form of books, letters, manuscripts, etc. , has made the 
collection of much of the contained information possible. Especial 
thanks are due to Mr. Ohas. H. Haswell of New York, a veteran 
engineer, and one of the few survivors of the earliest steam period 
of our navy; his clear mind has supplied a fund of information 
regarding the birth of our steam navy that could not have been 
obtained elsewhere, and which has made possible the rescue from 
oblivion of much of the subject-matter included in the first chapters. 
Chief Engineer B. F. Isherwood, U. S. Navy, has also kindly sup- 
plied much information and many references to documents from 
which valuable knowledge has been derived. 

Chief Engineers James W. King, William H. Shock, Charles 
H. Loring, George W. Melville, David P. Jones, James Entwistle, 
F. G. McKean, Harrie Webster, and James H. Perry; Passed 
Assistant Engineers Eobert S. Griffin, F. C. Bieg, Walter M. 
McFarland, H. P. Norton, F. C. Bowers, G. Kaemmerling, and 
Chief Naval Constructor Philip Hichborn, have all afforded so much 
aid in the way of papers, manuscripts, photographs, etc. , that it is a 
pleasure to thank them by name. Mr. T. C. Brecht, formerly of 
the naval engineer corps, and Mr. A. O. Blaisdell of New York, 
have contributed valuable drawings of machinery of older ships, 
which might not have been found elsewhere, which are greatly 
appreciated. Mr. E. H. Hart, the well-known photographer of 
Brooklyn, has placed the author under many obligations by allowing 
the use of photographs upon which he holds copyrights. Besides 
those already named, nearly three hundred others — officers and 
ex-officers of the navy, ship and engine builders, and civilians inter- 
ested in naval progress — have by letter or verbally given much 
assistance; all whom are now formally thanked. 

In all matters of historical importance the aim has been to 
adhere strictly to official accounts written at the time by persons 
most directly concerned. With this idea in view, the annual reports 
of the Secretary of the Navy for more than fifty years, covering the 


period since steam was introduced into the navy, have been carefully 
studied, as have also the reports of commanding officers of fleets, 
squadrons, and ships, especially those relating to the operations of 
the Civil War. The records of the naval Bureaus of Steam Engi- 
neering and Construction and Kepair have been found mines of useful 
knowledge. Many reports made by committees of Congress on 
naval matters have also been used and much information gained 
from them, they being official and impartial to the same extent as 
departmental reports, and therefore equally suitable. From these 
official sources and from individuals of undoubted reliability the 
material for this book has been obtained. 

In addition to official documents, many books have been used 
for reference. Some of these are mentioned in the text; among 
others, those found most useful have been, " The Atlantic and Gulf 
Coast, " by Rear Admiral Daniel Ammen; C. B. Boynton, "History 
of the Navy During the Cival War;" Charles B. Stuart, "Naval 
and Merchant Steamers of the United States;" J. E. Soley, "The 
Blockade and the Cruisers;" Geo. F. Emmons, "Navy of the 
United States, 1775-1853;" Bear Admiral Preble, "History of 
Steam Navigation;" Dr. R. H. Thurston, "Growth of the Steam 
Engine;" Captain A. T. Mahan, "Gulf and Inland Waters;" 
T. H. S. Hamersly, " General Register of the U. S. Navy;" J. T. 
Scharf, "History of the Confederate States Navy," Bennet 
Woodcroft, "Origin of Steam Navigation;" "Wm. C. Church, 
"Life of John Ericsson;" H. O. Ladd, " The War With Mexico;" 
Chief Engineer B. F. Isherwood, "Engineering Precedents," and 
"Experimental Researches;" Chief Engineer George W. Melville, 
" In the Lena Delta;" Mrs. Emma De Long, " The Yoyage of the 
Jeannette;" Chief Engineer James W. King, "European Ships of 
War," and Wm. Fairbairn, " History of Iron Ship-Building. " The 
Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers has furnished 
complete data regarding naval and commercial steamers of the 
United States and foreign countries for the past seven years, or ever 
since that journal was established. 

Appendix A is known to be imperfect in not containing the 
names of that great body of patriotic Americans who served their 
country so well as volunteer engineers in the n;ivy during the long 
war for the preservation of the Union: they numbered upwards of 
twenty-five hundred and their names and records when displayed in 
tabular form were found to fill so many pages as to exceed the limits 


proposed for this volume, which obliged the author reluctantly to 
abandon his original intention of including them in the list of officers 
of the regular service. 

Appendix B is also incomplete for lack of space. To prop- 
erly present in tables all the important data relating to our naval 
steamers, their engines, boilers, builders, synopsis of service, etc., 
would require pages of folio, or at least quarto, size, the tables given 
being consequently limited by the size of these pages to a few 
columns of the most important items. Lack of space has also caused 
the omission from these tables of the names of a large number of 
steamers purchased or captured during the Civil War and used tem- 
porarily as war vessels. An excellent list of naval vessels, giving 
all useful information, was published in book form in 1853 by 
Lieutenant (afterwards rear admiral) George F. Emmons, but noth- 
ing of the kind has appeared recently. Some officer with a liking 
for statistics could not be better employed at present than in the 
preparation of similar tables brought up to date, uiing the Emmons 
book as a model, for it cannot be improved upon in form and 
arrangement. Unless this is done soon, much useful and interesting 
information will be lost, as the author, with all the records of the 
Navy Department to refer to, found great difficulty in collecting 
data pertaining to ships not more than thirty years old. 

Appendix C, "Uncle Samuel's Whistle and What It Costs, " 
is amusing rather than instructive. It is reprinted to gratify requests 
made by a number of present and former members of the engineer 
corps. It is hoped it will please the older officers of the navy to see 
it again in print, while it certainly will amuse the younger men of 
the service who have never seen it. 

The author submits no apology for making this book. It is a 
custom in armies and navies for the histories of distinct corps, 
departments, regiments, and even ships, to be written, and, although 
the supply of books in the world is far too great, there is room fo r 
one more to tell the story of steam in the American Navy. The only 
regret felt by the writer in giving this volume to his friends and the 
public is because of its imperfections: the subject deserves better 
treatment, and with more time and better opportunities to bestow 
upon it could be made more valuable as a history and more attractive 
in literary form. As it is, it has cost much research and hard work 
in the intervals of busy employment afloat and ashore, and it is now 
open to criticism. F. M. B. 

New York, August, 1896. 





The Steam Navy of the United States. 


" For we are to bethink us that the Epic verily is not Arms and the Man, 
but Tools and the Man — an infinitely wider kind of Epic." — Thomas Caklylb: 
Past and Present, Book IV., Chapter 1. 


A glorious epic of the olden world, with the first lines of 
which most modern men are familiar, sings in stately rythm of 
' ' The arms and the man who first from the shores of the Trojan into 
Italy came, ' ' and this association of man and his weapons has re- 
mained through all the ages as the symbol and corner stone of all 
human government, power, and progress. The events of the cent- 
ury now drawing to its end have to a considerable extent shaken 
this ideal, for other things than arms have come to be recognized in 
the story of man's development a change in sentiment 
expressed to perfection by that prince of modern philosophers 
in the words that appear at the head of this chapter. In under- 
taking the subject of this volume the author does not propose 
to sing, or try to sing, of tools and men alone, nor will he 
attempt to elevate either tools or arms to the disadvantage of the 
other; but rather, believing that the adoption of steam machinery 
for purposes of war furnishes the most perfect illustration in exis- 
tence of the mutual dependence and co-operation of these two great 
factors in civilization, he will endeavor to treat them as equals, for 
the arm is a tool and the tool is an arm, and their uses and purposes 
are identical within the limits of the subject of this book. 

The story of the application of steam power to navigation, 
especially to the navigation and operation of ships of war,„ is a long 
one, and one which must be imperfectly told in the following chap- 
ters for the reason that the slow acceptance and growth of the new 
element will be considered with reference to one country and one 


navy oaly. Men who have made a study of the history of war, or 
who have given even a reasonable amount of reading to the subject 
are familiar with the reluctance with which the older weapons were 
laid aside for those which came in with the use of gunpowder. 
"YiHainous saltpetre" was for a long era an object of dislike and 
distrust and those who used it were regarded with disfavor if not 
with contempt; they did not meet the enemy in hand-to-hand con- 
flict with sword and spear; they begrimed their hands and clothing 
with burnt powder; they could not join in the rush and blood-stirring 
excitement of the charge, but stood off from friend and foe encum- 
bered with their heavy weapons, creating an ill-smelling smoke and 
discordant noises, and their labors were very grudgingly admitted to 
be of any real advantage. So strong was the aversion to the new 
implement that in 1544, two hundred years after cannon are known 
to have been used by civilized nations in battle, * an historian deal- 
ing with the subject wrote that a monk was the inventor of cannon ; 
adding that "the villian who brought into the world so mischievous 
a thing is not worthy that his name should remain in the memory of 

As they did not take part in hand-to-hand conflict, gunners were 
looked upon as non-combatants, quite inferior to the warriors of the 
broad-sword and battle-axe variety, and as their weapon was very 
slow in its development they remained in an inferior military posi- 
tion for many centuries. It is an historical fact that it was not until 
just before the beginning of the American Revolution that the artil- 
lery branch of the British army, after a protracted but triumphant 
struggle with prejudice, "had vindicated its right to be, and was con- 
sidered an important combatant arm. "2 So complete has been the 
change of sentiment with respect to cannon within about one hund- 
red years that men belonging to military establishments now, especi- 
ally navies, who make a point of priding themselves upon being es- 
sentially combatants, base their claim wholly upon the circumstance 
that their business is to handle cannon and gunpowder. The effect 

» At Crecy in 1346. Traditions more or less authentic carry the use of " fire 
pipes" or other obscurely described weapons back almost to the beginning of thl 
Christian era. ° UB 

* Lieutenant W. E. Birkhimer: " Historical Sketch of the Artillery T7 <a 
Army." •" ' °* 


of the prejudice of centuries against firearms is still visible in the 
lingering regiments of lancers, armed with the spear, occasionally 
met with in the great armies of the most progressive powers. 

The introduction of steam into naval operations has revolution- 
ized the fighting tactics of navies to fully as great an extent as gun- 
powder changed the methods of fighting on land, and in precisely 
the same manner has the development of steam been hindered by a 
prejudice born of older things and intolerant of change. Gunpowder 
has long since won its struggle, and steam on shore has been equally 
successful, but steam at sea is still in the very thickest of the fight 
for recognition upon its merit, and this in spite of the fact that the 
vehicle for its use — the marine engine — has advanced further 
toward perfection within the hundred years of its life than did 
the cannon during all the centuries from Crecy to Sedan, and is 
now in a stage of development fully abreast, if not actually ahead 
of the most perfected pieces of ordnance. That steam will win an 
equal place and equal honor with gunpowder and the propelling 
and auxiliary engines of a ship of war will come to be recognized as 
arms fully as important in making up the ship's combative qualities, 
as the turret and machine guns is a matter of simple logic; it only 
remains to be seen how long it will be before preconceived notions 
will admit the value of a new weapon. 

It is proposed to begin with the first steam war- vessel ever built, 
which happened to be in our own navy, and to trace from that clumsy 
beginning the slow development of the naval steamer, with such il- 
lustrations as have been obtainable, in such manner that the chapters of 
this book will be an orderly and progressive account of the growth of the 
war-steamer and the marine engine in the United States. Into this nar- 
rative, as a most essential part, will be woven the history of the 
engineer corps of the navy, whose members have, in the face of much 
that was discouraging, kept the standard of our steamers fully up to 
that of other nations and have made the new navy, with its swift 
steel ships and perfected machinery, an established fact. Naval histo- 
ries,' 1 of which there are many, deal almost entirely with the deeds 
of those who fight in ships that they have received completed from 
the hands of the builders, and in a majority of cases have little or 
nothing to say of the ships themselves or of their makers, or of that 
other class of officials who not only design and build the vitals of all 


modern war-ships but fight in the ships themselves as part of their 
naval duties. In making this work statistical to a considerable ex- 
tent with regard to our naval steamers it is therefore proper that the 
lives and deeds of those who have been so intimately connected with 
them be also told, descriptively as well as statistically, and in so do- 
ing the author believes he will supply a lack that many beside him- 
self have noticed in the older and more pretentious histories of our 

It has been written that it is difficult to become sentimental 
about the engineer. This idea is born of the belief that he deals 
only with material things and takes no part in the glorious possibili- 
ties of war or in the victories that are won from storms. This theory 
is absolutely false; his post of duty is as dangerous, as responsible, 
and as romantic, if you will, as any in a ship if people did but know 
it, and it is only because of a cultivated fondness for things that have 
been long celebrated in song and story that they do not know it. 
The life of the old-time sailor was in reality commonplace enough to 
satisfy even a ploughman, but an admiration for the sea and those 
who face its dangers on the part of those who never go to sea has 
made of the sailor's existence a picturesque ideal that has become an 
article of faith with all landsmen. And this faith excludes the new 
type of seaman — the man of the engine and boiler rooms — from any 
share in the romance of the sea because he faces dangers of another 
kind and performs his duty in another atmosphere, though equally 
exposed to the dangers that are peculiar to a life afloat. When some 
poet with a clearer vision and a willingness to enter an untrodden 
field shall appear and sing the song of steam it will be a revelation 
.y to the multitude; for there is music and romance and poetry as well 
as the embodiment of power about the mechanisms that drive the 
great ships of to-day. 

From a habit of thought, then, rather than from any real state 
of affairs, the engine-room men of modern fleets are denied partici- 
pation and honor in much of the life in which they take a leading part. 
With but little change, Napier's famous comparision of the condi- 
tions surrounding the British and French soldiers in the Peninsular 
War applies most aptly to the relation between the artificer and 
sailor classes in modern navies. The British soldier, though patiently 
fighting to conquer, could look forward to no honors to reward his 


daring; no despatch gave his name to the plaudits of his country- 
men; his life of danger and hardship was uncheered by hope, his 
death unnoticed. At the same time, "Napoleon's troops fought in 
bright fields, where every helmet caught some beams of glory." In 
just the same way the naval engineer and his men toil in darkness in 
the depths of the ship, knowing full well that much they do will be 
unknown and unnoticed, however important it may be; and they 
often meet emergencies so bravely that their ships are saved from 
destruction or disablement both in peace and war, as will be shown 
hereafter by a few notable instances of duty, well done, that have come 
to light out of the many that have been performed. 

Few naval engineeers of any length of service have not once at 
least, been suddenly brought face to face with death in its most fear- 
ful form by being called upon to act in an emergency resulting from 
a damaged boiler or steam pipe, and the instances are few where 
they have failed to prevent a calamity by sticking to their posts and 
encouraging their men to do the needful work, often so quietly that 
knowledge of the danger averted does not extend beyond the fire- 
room. If equal danger were faced from shot and shell in the smoke 
of battle, popular applause and military rewards would follow, but 
the engineer, encountering his peril in clouds of scalding steam and 
in the choke and wither of fierce fires suddenly hauled, does not ap- 
peal to the popular idea of heroism, though his acts are heroic and 
his performance of duty in navies is a military act just as much as 
nailing a flag to a mast, stopping a shot hole, or fishing a mast under 
fire, are military duties. Nor has he even the consoling thought 
when confronted with an emergency of meeting a death accounted 
heroic, for if he dies it must be like a rat in a hole, for which there 
is no glory, popular fancy regarding no death for one's country 
glorious, unless it is met not only beneath the flag but in full sight of it. 

Popular ideaB of naval administration are based upon a partial 
knowledge of an order of things that is no more, and not upon fa- 
miliarity with conditions that really exist. Whatever notions the pub- 
lic may entertain, the fact remains that a much firmer and finer de- 
gree of courage is required in the officer who controls a division of 
men, either in peace or war, imprisoned beneath the battle-hatches 
of a war-steamer than in him whose men are in the open air and in 
flight of their danger. If the habit of command is ever needed in an 


officer it is in the trying emergencies and conditions that beset the 
naval engineer, and he who posesses it to the degree that enables him 
in a critical moment to keep his men at their posts and free from 
panic, thereby making of them and the machinery they handle a 
fighting factor that can be relied upon, is aiding his commanding 
officer in carrying out a plan of battle to folly as great an extent as 
can any other officer who directs the handling of two or four guns; 
and the officer who does this is most thoroughly and essentially a 
combatant, performing duties directly contributory to the fighting 
capabilities of the ship. This proposition needs no proof to those 
familiar with modern naval conditions, but as one of the purposes of 
this book is to set the position of Americaa naval engineers in a true 
light before the public a number of instances of gallantry and profes- 
sional efficiency on their part will be recited to prove that they actu- 
ally and by right, by virtue of the duties they perform, belong to the 
combatant class of naval officers, of the navy as well as in the navy. 
As the Civil War furnishes the example of the most prolonged 
and arduous service that our navy has ever been called upon to per- 
form, and is, moreover, the first and only instance of great naval 
operations being carried on by means of steam vessels, it wiH be 
taken as the proper field for illustrating the nature and importance 
of the duties that engineers have rendered this country in its naval 
service. Though nearly one-half of this volume will be devoted to 
the work of the navy during the Civil War, no idea has been enter- 
tained of giving even an outline of our naval history during that pe- 
riod. A sufficient number of naval engagements and undertakings 
will be narrated in chronological order to give an ordinarily good 
idea of the general services performed by the navy, and an effort 
will be made to trace with some care the* changes in type of naval 
steam-ships and marine engines resulting from the experiences of the 
war. In all of this no undue or undeserved prominence will be given 
to the naval engineer corps or to any of its members, but where en- 
gineers have rendered conspicuous service, either in battle or in pro- 
paring ships and machinery for use in war, full credit will be accorded 
them. This being a history of engines and engineers, it is natural 
that engineers should be frequently mentioned, but that does 
not leave the inference that they were the only officers engaged in 
carrying on the war on the part of the navy; on the contrary th 


aim is simply to show that they did contribute much to the success 
of the Union arms and were much more than civilian adjuncts to the 
officers charged with the execution of general operations, whom they 
helped so well. The latter cannot at this late day regret that the 
story of the devotion of their engineer colleagues is to be told, es- 
pecially as the story of their own deeds has been told often and well 
and has become a glorious part of our naval history. 


" Soon shall thy arm, unconquer'd Steam! afar 
Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car; 
Or on wide-waving wings expanded bear 
The flying chariot through the fields of air." 

Eeasmtjs Darwin. 

The Demologos, 1 or Fulton, the First Steam War- Vessel ever Built — Eobert Ful- 
ton—The Sea Gull— The Fulton, 2d— Mr. Charles H. Haswell, the First 
Engineer in the United States Navy— Captain M. C. Perry's Eecommenda- 
tions Eegarding Engineers' Force — Regulations Governing Appointment of 
Engineers— Performance of the Fulton Under Steam — Her Subsequent Ca- 
reer — Captain Perry's Interest in Engineers. 

THE first steam 
vessel for war 
purposes in the 
United States na- 


or m 


navy for that mat- 
ter, was the Demo- 
logos, or Fulton, 
designed by Mr. 
Eobert Fulton and 
" built under his su- 
, pervision in New 
H Yorkinl814, while 
P the war with Great 
Britain was going 
on. Owing to diffi- 
culties in obtaining 
material and skilled labor, this vessel, or floating battery, was not 
completed in time to be used against the British fleet, then con- 
stantly hovering about the port of New York, an unfortunate circum- 
stance that is to be regretted for more reasons than one. The sub- 
sequent performance of this peculiar craft under steam makes it 


111 Voice of the People." 


certain that with her powerful battery and independence of wind and 
tide she would have been entirely successful oyer the sailing-frigates 
she was built to assail, her advantage over them being not unlike 
that possessed by a savage, tireless wolf attacking a flock of sheep. 
Her earlier advent would have saved us the loss of the President 
frigate, and thus deprived the enemy of one of the very few causes 
for rejoicing over naval victories that the events of that war afforded. 

Of much more importance would have been the incalculable im- 
pulse given to steam as a factor in naval warfare that would have 
followed the success of the Demologos in battle, and which would 
have set forward the development of the times in this regard almost 
half a century. The duel between the rudely-fashioned ironclads 
Monitor and Merrimac completely changed the naval architecture of 
the world, but who can tell of the absolute revolution, not only in 
naval architecture but in the methods of naval warfare, that would 
have resulted from the trial of Fulton's invention in actual war ? In- 
stead of being afterward obliged to fight its way inch by inch and 
foot by foot, compelled to struggle against every obstacle and every 
objection which jealousy, conservatism, and ignorance could bar 
against its progress, slowly and painfully forcing an unwilling and 
qualified recognition from the very element that should have cham- 
pioned its cause, steam-power would have appeared in the arena fully 
armed and equipped from the brain of its master, and would have 
been hailed not only as an auxiliary, but as an all-important arm in 
naval warfare. 

The dimensions of the Demologos were: length, one hundred 
and fifty-six feet; breadth, fifty-six feet; depth, twenty feet; ton- 
nage, two thousand four hundred and seventy-five; water-wheel, 
sixteen feet in diameter, fourteen feet wide, four feet dip; engine, 
cylinder forty-eight inches diameter, and five feet stroke; boiler, 
length, twenty- two feet; breadth, twelve feet; depth, eight feet. 

The total cost of the vessel was % 320, 000, or about the cost of 
a first-class frigate, the Constitution, built in 1797, having cost origi- 
nally $302,719. 

A comparision of these dimensions with the views of this pio- 
neer war-steamer given in this chapter shows that the drawings are 
somewhat out of proportion to the scale marked on them; they are, 
nevertheless, of great interest and value as being exact copies of the 


Figure 1* Tiwuverse &c7unAAerJtoi/er,B the steam E^ine^t/tewaiBri^hpel, 

EE her wockn. vaSs 5fee t thick, d^uu^u^tiibelim' the ^cd^rluufss s{Y^ , i 

Fig. I. 

'MsTiergwiiieck itOfeet Ima ». 
~^&fel vide, mmmbyZOgimsAJiMWgler wheel 






originals made by Robert Fuken and exhibited by him to the Presi- 
dent of the United States when advocating his plan of applying steam 
to naval warfare. Fulton had his interview with the Executive late 
in 1813 and his project was zealously accepted, Congress, in March, 
1814, authorhskig the President to have built and equipped one or 
more such floating batteries for the defense of the coast. 

The Coast and Harbor Defense Association, having charge of 
the building of war vessels, committed the building of the Demologos 
to a sub-committee of five prominent gentlemen, and Eobert Fulton 
was appointed the engineer in charge of the work. The complete 
vessel — hull, engines and boilers — was designed by Fulton and the 
engines and boilers were built by him at his machine works on the 
North River. The hull was built at the ship-yard of Adam and Noah 
Brown on the East River and was launched in the presence of a great 
multitude of spectators, October 29, 1814, a little more than four 
months after the keds were laid. The plural is used intentionally, 
as the structure, as may be seen from the drawings, consisted of two 
hulk with the paddle-wheel working in a channel or canal between 
them; this canal was not continuous from end to end of the vessel, 
but is described as occupying a space of about sixty feet adjacent to 
the wheel, with its approaches presumably sloped off to prevent the 
action of the wheel from being inutile. 

In November the hull was moved from the ship-yard to Fulton's 
engine works and the machinery installed, that labor being com- 
pleted by the end of May," 1815. Certain changes were made in the 
vessel about this time on the recommendation of Captain David Porter, 
who had just returned home from his unfortunate cruise with the Es- 
sex and had been assigned to the command of the war-steamer. The 
original plan was to rely upon steam alone for propulsion, but Por- 
ter regarded this with misgiving and caused two large masts to be 
stepped to support latteen sails, and bowsprits for jibs, with all the 
accompanying top-hamper; he also had the sides, originally stopped 
flush at the spar deck, carried up to form protecting bulwarks for the 
sailors who would be on deck attending to the sails and rigging that 
had been added. The boiler, or " caldron for preparing her steam," 
as the gentlemen having charge of the work called it in their report, 
was also changed, probably by Fulton's direction, and two boilers 
were installed instead of one. Owing to the rigor of the British 


blockade about New York, guns for the vessel had to be hauled over- 
land from Philadelphia, they having been taken from an armed British 
ship named John, of Lancaster, captured by the President early in the 
war. In June, 1815, the Demologos steamed about New York Bay 
to try her machinery and found its performance to exceed every ex- 
pectation; in the words of an early writer, "she exhibited a novel 
and sublime spectacle to an admiring people." 

On the fourth of July of the same year, she made a passage to 
the ocean and back, steaming fifty-three miles in all, without any aid 
from her sails, in eight hours and twenty minutes; the wind and tide 
were partly in her favor and partly against her, the average rather in 
her favor. In September she made another trial trip to the sea, and 
having at this time the weight of her whole armament on board, she 
went at an average of five and a half miles an hour, with and against 
the tide. When stemming the tide, which ran at the rate of three 
miles an hoar, she advanced at the rate of two and a half miles an 
hour. This performance was not more than equal to Robert Fulton's 
expectations, but it exceeded what he had promised to the govern- 
ment, which was that she should be propelled by steam at the rate 
of from three to four miles an hour. 

The British were not uninformed as to the preparations which 
were making for them, nor inattentive to their progress. It is cer- 
tain that the steam battery lost none of her terrors in the reports or 
imaginations of the enemy, as we find the following information in a 
treatise on steam vessels published in Scotland at that time, the au- 
thor stating that he had taken great care to procure full and accurate 

"Length on deck, three hundred feet; breadth, two hundred 
feet; thickness of her sides, thirteen, feet of alternate oak plank and 
cork wood — carries forty-four guns, four of which are hundred pound- 
ers; quarter-deck and forecastle guns, forty-four pounders; and 
further to annoy an enemy attempting to board, can discharge one 
hundred gallons of boiling water in a minute, and by mechanism 
brandishes three hundred cutlasses with the utmost regularity over her 
gunwales; works also an equal number of heavy iron pikes of o- re at 
length, darting them from her sides with prodigious force, and with- 
drawing them every quarter of a minute!" 


















By one of those inexplicable cruelties of fate, Mr. Fulton, whose 
heart and soul were absorbed in the progress of his structure, was 
taken ill and died suddenly in February, 1815, before the vessel was 
completed, so he never knew of the great success he had achieved. 
Referring to this sad event, the report of the construction committee 
says: "Their exertions were further retarded by the premature and 
unexpected death of the engineer. The world was deprived of his 
invaluable labors before he had completed his favorite undertaking. 
They will not inquire, wherefore, in the dispensations of a Divine 
Providence, he was not permitted to realize his grand conception. 
His discoveries, however, survive for the benefit of 'mankind, and will 
extend to unborn generations." 

The same committee report, signed by Messrs. Samuel L. 
Mitchell, Thomas Morris, and Henry Rutgers, contains many opin- 
ions and recommendations of great wisdom, indicating that the men 
of those days were more far-seeing and thoughtful than those of a 
later generation, and more disposed to appreciate the importance of 
new discoveries. Although written eighty years ago, the following 
paragraphs from the report sound not unlike the more progressive 
naval opinions of to-day, especially in that part relating to the neces- 
sity of training men for steam service, a subject that has been re- 
commended and as regularly neglected from time to time ever since 

' ' The Commissioners congratulate the Government and the na- 
tion on the event of this noble project. Honorable alike to its au- 
thor and its patrons, it constitutes an era in warfare and the arts. 
The arrival of peace, indeed, has disappointed the expectations of 
conducting her to battle. That last and conclusive act of showing 
her superiority in combat, has not been in the power of the Commis- 
sioners to make. 

"If a continuance of tranquility should be our lot, and this 
steam vessel of war be not required for the public defense, the nation 
may rejoice that the fact we have ascertained is of incalculably greater 
value than the expenditure — and that if the present structure should 
perish, we have the information never to perish, how, in a future 
emergency, others may be built. The requisite variations will be 
dictated by circumstances. 


' 'Owing to the cessation of hostilities, it has been deemed inexpe- 
dient to finish and equip her as for immediate and active employ. In 
a few weeks everything that is incomplete could receive the proper 

"After so much has been done, and with such encouraging re- 
sults, it becomes the Commissioners to recommend that the steam 
frigate be officered and manned for discipline and practice. A dis- 
creet commander, with a selected crew, could acquire experience in 
the mode of navigating this peculiar vessel. The supplies of fuel, 
the tending of the fires, the replenishing of the expended water, the 
management of the mechanism, the heating of shot, the exercise of 
the guns, and various matters, can only become familiar by use. It 
is highly important that a portion of tie seamen and marines should 
be versed in the order and economy of the steam frigate. They will 
augment, diffuse, and perpetuate knowledge. When, in process of 
time, another war shall call for more structures of this kind, men, 
regularly trained to her tactics, may be dispatched to the several sta- 
tions where they may be wanted." 

There being no active service in the navy against the enemy; 
the Demologos, or Fulton, as she was afterward named, was taken 
to the Brooklyn navy yard and used as a receiving ship for many 
years, until, on the fourth day or June, 1829, her magazine, containing 
two and one-half barrels of damaged powder used for firing the morn- 
ing and evening gun, blew up, entirely destroying the vessel, killing 
twenty-four persons and wounding nineteen others. Lieutenant S. 
M. Breckenridge was among the killed, as was also a woman who 
happened to be on board at the time. The cause of the explosion has 
never been known, although there was a tale current at the time that 
it was the deliberate act of a gunner's mate who had been disrated 
and flogged the morning of the day on which the catastrophe occur- 
red. It is also said to have resulted from gross carelessness, survi- 
vors stating that the powder was kept in open kegs and that in the 
"bag-room" next the magazine, and separated from it only by a 
light bulkhead in which was a sliding door, the marine sergeant had 
a desk and was allowed to use an open light. Whatever the cause, 
the destruction was complete, and terminated the history of the 
first steam vessel of war ever built. 


No engineers came into the navy because ©f the existence of 
the Demologos, men from Fulton's works having operated the machin- 
ery on the three occasions when she was under way with her own 
steam, and her engines were not moved after she was laid up in the 
navy yard. The next steamer to appear in the navy was the galliot 
Sea Gull, of one hundred tons, purchased in New York for $16,000 
in 1822 and used as a despatch boat in Porter's "Mosquito fleet," 
employed in the West Indies for the suppression of piracy in 1823- 
24. There is no record of the men who had charge of the machinery 
of this little craft and we can only surmise that they were probably the 
same who had run her before she was purchased, and that their con- 
nection with the service was merely temporary. The Sea Gull was 
laid up in 1825 at Philadelphia, where she remained until 1840 when 
she was sold for $4,750. 

For ten years after the Sea Gull was laid up, steamers do not 
appear in the official literature of the navy, though the same period 
witnessed a most wonderful development of the application of steam 
to navigation for commercial purposes, and steamers had visited"In- 
dia, China, the West Indies and other parts of the world, as well as 
having made the trans-Atlantic voyage no longer a marvellous one 
when performed under steam. That our navy was not the only one 
to remain in ignorance and indifference while this great change in 
marine affairs was going on all about it, is shown by the circumstance 
that in 1831 a steamer built in Quebec was, while on a peaceful voy- 
age to London, fired on by a British frigate in the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence and compelled to heave-to until the officers of the frigate were 
satisfied that there was nothing diabolical in her construction. This 
same steamer, the Royal William by name, was sold after arriving 
in London to the Spanish government, and, under the name of Isa- 
bella the Second, became the first steam war-ship of that nation. 

In 1835, under date of June 26, Mr. Mahlon Dickerson, then 
Secretary of the Navy, addressed a letter to the Board of Navy Com- 
missioners, calling attention to an act of Congress dated April 29, 
1816, which authorized the construction of a steam vessel, and re- 
questing that the Board take immediate measures for commencing and 
completing such vessel; further directing that plans of the vessel 
and machinery be submitted to the Department for the approval of 
the President. 


At that time there were about 700 steam vessels in use on the 
waters of the United States, the most of them being on the rivers and 
lakes, although some coastwise steamship lines had been established: 
with few exceptions these vessels were not larger than a modern steam 
tug, and their machinery was of the most crude design and workman- 
ship, the chief object being to hammer together a boiler that would not 
leak too much to prevent the accumulation of some steam within it, 
and to hew out of heavy iron castings a cylinder with a roughly- fitted 
piston that could be forced to move back and forth under steam-pres- 
sure with reasonable regularity. There were at that time, of course, 
men of scientific attainments who were giving attention to the theory 
of the steam engine, and who had made considerable progress toward 
the solution of those thermo-dynamic problems, the knowledge of 
which in our own day has made the steam engine a comparatively 
economical machine. 

To these experts, who were usually the managers or superintend- 
ents of the larger engine-building establishments then in existence, 
the Board of Navy Commissioners appealed for advice and help, but 
it does not appear from the records that any great amount of comfort 
was derived in this manner. One Wm. Kemble, who was the agent 
for the West Point Foundry Association, cheerfully supplied the Board 
with dissertations on the comparative merits of condensing and high- 
pressure engines and the theory of working steam expansively, giv- 
ing copious opinions of Watt, Trevithick, Oliver Evans, and other 
authorities, all of which must have been highly interesting reading 
for the Board. One of these letters closes as follows: "I have given 
you our views candidly, but we are ready to execute any plan which 
the more extensive views and experience of the Board may decide 
on. ' ' Whether this was the irony of an expert who appreciated the 
humor of the situation, or was simply the homage demanded by the 
standing of the Board of Navy Commissioners, is open to doubt, but 
as no catastrophe to Mr. Kemble followed, we may conclude that the 
Board accepted this insinuation of its engineering wisdom as a proper 
and customary due. 

Construction work on the hull of the vessel went forward rapidly 
at the New York navy yard, but the Navy Commissioners do not seem 
to have made corresponding progress in mastering the science of ma- 
rine engineering, for we find them presently driven to the extremity 
of addressing the following letter to the Secretary of the Navy: 


"Navy Comahssioiusbs' Office, December 30, 1835. 
" Sie: The Commissioners of the Navy have, in conformity with 
the terms of your letter of the 26th instant, caused an advertisement 
to be published asking for proposals for furnishing the steam engines 
for the the steam vessel now building at New York. From their ig- 
norance upon the subject of steam engines they are in doubt whether 
the advertisement gives the necessary information to enable persons to 
make proper offers. They are satisfied that they are incompetent 
themselves, and have no person under their direction who could fur- 
nish them with the necessary information to form a contract for steam 
engines that may secure the United States from imposition, disap- 
pointment, and loss, should the lowest offers happen to be made by 
persons whose general character and responsibility would not offer 
great security for their completing the engines in the best manner, 
according to the intentions and wishes of the board, in case the pre- 
cise terms of the contract should leave them a legal opportunity of 
evading its spirit. 

"The board beg leave, therefore, to request your authority for 
engaging some person who may be deemed competent to advise them 
upon this subject, and to superintend and inspect the engines during 
their progress, and until they shall be satisfactorily tested, and to 
designate the fund from which his compensation shall be paid. 

"Respectfully, etc., 

"John Rodgees." 

This request for the professional services of an engineer not meet- 
ing with any immediate response from the Secretary, the board re- 
newed its call for help a month later by the following communication: 

"Sie: The board would respectfully recall your attention to 
their letter of the 30th ultimo, in relation to the employment of an 
engineer; his services will be much wanted in superintending the con- 
struction and arrangement of the engines and boilers, and afterwards 
to work them in the vessel. As it will be desirable to obtain satis- 
factory testimonials of the qualifications of any person who may be 
thus employed, which may consume some time, an early decision may 
prove advantageous. 

"Respectfully, etc., 

"John Rodgees." 


Mr. Charles H. Haswell of New York became an applicant for 
the position of engineer which the Board of Navy Commissioners was 
so anxious to have filled, but his appointment was not made until the 
Board had taken occasion, while admitting the excellence of his pro- 
fessional knowledge as shown by his testimonials and conversation, 
to express grave doubts as to his practical familiarity with the manipu- 
lation of marine machinery, from which circumstance we of this day, 
who not infrequently encounter the same criticism, may see that the 
mistrust, inconsequential as it is, is by no means new. The Board 
qualified its doubt in Mr. Haswell's case with the following ingenu- 
ous confession: "How far such practical knowledge may be absolutely 
necessary, or can be supplied by superior information upon the con- 
struction of the engine itself, the Board has no means of determining, 
except such as are common to other persons." Mr. Haswell's ap- 
pointment, made two days after the comments of the Board were sub- 
mitted to the Department, reads as follows: 

" Navy Department, February 19, 1836. 

" Sir: In your letter to the Commissioners of the Navy yester- 
day, you offer to furnish draughts of a high and low-pressure steam 
engine and boiler, on different elevations, suitable for the steam ves- 
sel now constructing by the Government of the United States, for the 
purposes stated. 

"You are therefore appointed, for the term of two months, to 
make such draughts and report the same to the Board of Navy Com- 
missioners, for which you will receive a compensation of two hundred 
and fifty dollars. 

"Mahlon Dickeeson. 

"To Mr. C. H. Haswell, Washington." 

In mid- summer following, under date of July 12th, 1836, Mr. 
Haswell was appointed chief engineer for the Fidton, as the steam- 
vessel then building was named; he thus becoming the first person to 
hold the position of engineer in the United States navy. Mr. Has- 
well was then an engineer of ability and established professional rep- 
utation, being earnestly engaged in the task, at that time a doubtful 
one, of proving the reliability of steam as a marine motor, independ- 
ent of any aid from sails. To him has been granted a privilege that 



comes to few men in any calling on this earth, for it has been his for- 
tune to witness the emblem of his profession — the steamship — grow 
from its awkward infancy to its present gigantic and perfected form, 
a development in which he has had a prominent part during all these 
decades, and which in the completeness of the changes that have been 
wrought,far exceeds the magical transformations of a dream or the en- 
chantments of a fairy-tale. In the great harbor where, as a young 
man, he saw the embryo steamer timidly and alone making its uncer- 
tain wake, an object so rare that curious crowds always flocked to 
watch it, he has been spared until now to see in his old age the crude 
and clumsy Fulton transformed into the Columbia or the New York, 
and the pioneer passenger steamers changed, as if by the magician's 
wand, into the Umbria, the Majestic, and the Campania. 


The following were the principal dimensions of the Fulton: 
Length of vessel between perpendiculars. . 180 ft. 

Beam on deck (extreme) 34 " 8 in. 

Depth of hold 12 " 2 " 

Mean draft 10 " 6 " 

Immersed midship section at mean draft. . . 308 square ft. 

Weight of hull 470 tons. 

Depth of keel 12 inches. 

Displacement at mean draft (about) 1,200 tons. 

The engines and boilers were built by the West Point Foundry 
Association of New York, under a contract dated January 23, 1837 


the engines in type and location being from the designs prepared 
for the Board of Navy Commissioners by Mr. Haswell, and the 
boilers from the designs of Mr. Charles W. Copeland, the engineer 
of the West Point company. There were two horizontal condensing 
engines located on the spar deck, the cylinders being of nine feet 
stroke and fifty inches in diameter, each engine turning a side -wheel 
twenty-two feet nine inches in diameter, and eleven feet six inches 
wide. The contract provided for a thwartship shaft to connect the 
two wheel shafts, at an additional cost of $2,000, if required, but the 
requirement was not made and the vessel was completed without such 
connection. So undeveloped was the art of iron manufacture at that 
time that the cranks and shafts were made of cast iron. The con- 
tract price for the engines was $40,000, to which was added $198.57 
for authorized changes. The wheels cost $9,000. The boilers were 
built by the contractors at the New York navy yard for eight and 
one-half cents a pound, the Government furnishing the material, 
which consisted of copper plates and rivet rods provided in 1816 for 
another vessel like the Demologos, which was never built. The total 
cost of boilers, including the material and labor, was $93,396.06. 
Originally there were four wagon-shaped boilers of -the return-flue 
type, each sixteen feet long, ten feet six inches wide, and nine feet 
three inches high, but these were afterward changed to two boilers 
twenty-five feet nine inches long, the other dimensions remaining 
unchanged. These boilers were located in the hold under the en 
gines, and were supplied with separate smoke pipes. The total cost 
of the vessel when completed — hull, equipments and machinery — 
was $299,649.81. 

The weight of engines was 81 tons; of boilers, including smoke 
pipes, steam pipes and connections, 119 tons, and water in the boil- 
ers, 41 tons. On a trial trip the following winter, Chief Engineer 
Haswell computed the horse-power developed to be 625, from which 
we observe that the weight of machinery per horse-power was about 
three times as much as under present practice. 

The steamer was launched May 18, 1837, and the work of in- 
stalling the machinery immediately undertaken; this work was much 
hindered by the action of the Board of Navy Commissioners in re- 
fusing to allow the hull to be taken to the engine builders' works on 
the North river, thus compelling the contractors to transport the en- 


gines in pieces to the navy yard. The Commissioners, in refusing 
the application to have the hull moved, said that they did not "feel 
themselves justified in permitting the vessel to be moved from the 
navy yard to a place over which they have no control," although 
why they should have felt this way is not apparent, as they had pre- 
viously confessed their incompetency to deal with matters relating to 
the vessel's machinery. This action forced the contractors to file a 
claim for ' ' increased expense in the putting up of the work, together 
with an additional delay of not less than three weeks," just as con- 
tractors do now when their work is retarded by the interference of 
naval officers. Truly, there is no new thing under the sun. 

About the first of September Captain Matthew C. Perry took 
general charge of the steamer, and immediately began investigating 
the subject of personnel required for her operation, the result of his 
researches being communicated to the Navy Commissioners by the 

following report: 

" New York, September 11, 1837. 

" Gentlemen: — I have sought to obtain the best information in 
reference to the number of engineers, firemen, &c, that will be re- 
quired for the steam frigate Fulton, and the following is the result 
of the combined opinions of the various persons consulted: 

"The lowest number for putting the engines in operation — 

"2 lst-class assistant engineers, at $800 per annum. 

"2 2nd-class assistant engineers, at $500 per annum. 

" 8 firemen, at from $25 to $30 per month. The firemen to be 
paid either of those amounts, at the discretion of the captain, as suit- 
able persons can be obtained. 

"4 or 6 coal heavers, at $15 per month. 

"Add to this when the vessel is in actual operation 

"1 chief engineer, 4 additional firemen and 4 coal heavers. 

"The coal holes are at the ends of the boilers, opposite to the 
furnaces, and the coal must necessarily be transported some dis- 

"These are the estimates of Mr. Haswell, Mr. Kimble and 
several other competent persons with whom I have conferred on the 

" It is apparent that no less than four engineers will answer as 
it requires two constantly at the levers, by which the engines are 


stopped and put in motion, which are worked on the spar deck, and 
two at the engines and boilers lelow deck, to watch the machinery 
and attend the water in the boilers — a most important consideration, 
as by the least neglect in this particular some accident occurs or the 
boilers are burnt. 

" It is necessary, also, that the firemen should be somewhat ac- 
quainted with the operation of the engines, the mode of supplying 
the boilers, &c. , as also the mode of placing the coals to prevent 
the burning of the furnaces. 

' ' The gentlemen all agree that the above is the least number 
that prudence and economy would authorize. 

" The large North river and Rhode Island boats have three en- 
gineers each, and their firemen understand starting and stopping the 
engines, regulating the steam, &c. Their wages are — for the chief 
engineer, $1,000 per annum; two assistants, at $360 and $600 per 
annum. Add to this their board, which, in the navy, would be de- 
frayed by themselves all beyond the ration of 20 cents per day. 

"Those denominated first-class assistants for the navy should 
correspond in qualifications with the chief engineers of private 
steamers, and their assistants with the second-class proposed for the 
navy, as it is supposed that the Government can hire persons on 
lower terms. 

"It has been suggested, in which I fully concur, that there 
should be these several described rates among the engineers and 
firemen in our national steamers, the better to distribute authority 
and responsibility, and to produce a proper ambition with the in- 
ferior rates to rise to the higher classes. 

" I enclose herewith a letter from Captain William Comstock, 
giving his views on the subject. And it may be remarked here, 
that all concur in the opinion of the necessity of separating the reg- 
ular crew from any interference with the engineers. 

"I would respectfully invite the attention of the Commission- 
ers to the consideration of the tenure by which these assistant engin- 
eers are to hold their appointment, and by what authority they are 
to be granted. It seems to me the process of their discharge, at 
least, should be summary, and entirely divested of the legal forms of 
arrest, court-martial, &c. The slightest appearance of intemperance, 
neglect, carelessness, &c, should be sufficient cause for their certain 


dismissal from the service. With whom is to rest the authority to 
judge of these delinquencies, and the necessity of the infliction of 
the penalty, will, of course, be determined on in time, and made 
known to the persons on receiving the appointment. 

' ' I have the honor to be, gentlemen, your obedient servant, 

"M C. Perbt. 
"To the Commissioners of the Navy, Washington, D. 0." 

This letter is important in our history as a corps, being the earl- 
iest official document containing so much as a hint of the necessity 
of organizing a permanent corps of naval engineers. 

The Board of Naval Commmissioners agreed to Captain Perry's 
recommendations as to wages for engineers and firemen, although 
remarking that for the latter the pay appeared high in addition to 
the ration, and referred the matter to the Department with various 
recommendations. The Department let the matter rest for more than 
a month, 'until, about the end of October, Captain Perry reported 
the vessel ready for steam, and called attention to the fact that no 
authority existed for the employment of assistant engineers, adding 
that their services were much needed. The suggestions made by the 
Board of Navy Commissioners on September 15 were promulgated 
as the regulations of the Department governing the appointment of 
" these descriptions of persons for the steamer." The recommen- 
dations of the Board, which became the Department's regulation, is 
another important document in the history of the engineer corps, and 
is here given: 

" Upon the subject of appointments of the engineers, etc., the 
Board respectfully suggest the expediency of allowing, for the pres- 
ent, the commandant to nominate the assistant engineers, after col- 
lecting, as far as practicable, proofs or certificates of their character 
and qualifications, sabject to the confirmation of the commander of 
the station, when time will allow of an immediate reference; in other 
cases, to be made by the commander of the vessel. 

"That they receive a letter of appointment, revocable at any 
time by the commander of the station upon complaints of intemper- 
ance, incapacity, insubordination, negligence, or other misconduct, 
by the commander of the vessel, if proved to the satisfaction of such 
commanding officer of the station. 


"The commander of the vessel, of course, to have the power 
of suspending them from duty, if he deems it necessary. 

"The engineers to sign some proper instrument, which will legally 
render them liable to the laws for the government of the navy, but 
to be exempt from corporal punishment; which instrument is to be 
transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy, with the letter accepting 
their appointment. 

" The firemen and coal-heavers to sign the shipping articles and 
be removable at the pleasure of the commander of the vessel, as 
authorized for the reduction and punishment of petty officers and 

This order was dated October 31, 1837, and was carried into 
effect by the appointment of John Faron, Jr., and Nelson Burt as 
first assistant engineers on November 15, and of J. C. limes and 
Hiram Sanford as second assistants on November 21. These ap- 
pointments were made by Captain Perry himself, as shown by the 
following extract from a report made December 16 on the steam 
trial of the Fulton: 

" The assistant engineers appointed by me promise to be highly 
industrious and useful men. I have been much pleased with their 
conduct, and, so far as I am yet capable of judging, consider them 
well acquainted with their duty; of one thing I am certain, that if 
the vessel is to be employed at all, sixteen, instead of eight firemen 
will be indispensably necessary." 

On November 1 the engines of the Fulton were put in motion 
for the first time and the result was highly satisfactory; "twelve inches 
of steam was produced in less than an hour by chips from the yard, " 
to quote from Captain Perry's report. During the ensuing winter 
the Fulton was thoroughly tried in free route and proved herself a 
success as a steamer, although certain peculiarities in construction 
precluded her use as a cruiser for general sea purposes: in fact she 
was not built for such service, the primary idea in her construction 
being to provide a harbor-defense vessel to take the place of the first 
Fulton, or Demologos. 

Captain Perry reported in February that her usual speed at a 
medium pressure of steam and twenty revolutions per minute of the 
engines had been proved to be about twelve knots, and that her 


maximum speed, at a forced pressure, might be extended to fifteen 
knots. He spoke highly of her efficiency as an armed vessel, in 
comparision with vessels of war not propelled by steam, and gave 
an opinion resulting from his observations that " there is not the least 
doubt that sea steamers of 1,400 or 1,500 tons can be constructed and 
equipped to cruise at sea, for limited periods (say twenty days,) as 
efficient vessels of war, to be as safe from the disasters of the sea as 
the finest frigate, and at an expense considerably less. " Lieutenant 
Lynch, attached to the vessel, in a written report stated that ' ' For 
harbor and coast defense, in light winds and calms, with a battery 
of long 64-pounders, the Fulton, with slight alterations, would be 
perfectly efficient, and more useful than any number of armed ships 
not propelled by steam," and the opinions of the other officers, all 
whom had to make reports to Captain Perry, generally agreed to this. 
In Chief Engineer Haswell's report we find the following carefully 
itemized statement of current expenses of running the engines, which 
is both curious and interesting at this date: 

Engines, 3 quarts of oil, at 18fc $0.56 

Engines and boilers, 5 pounds of tallow, at 10c 50 

Engines, 2£ pounds of hemp, at 12c 30 

2 pounds of spun yarn, at 12c 24 

i pound of black lead, at 10c 10 

Paints and brushes 75 

Boilers, Indian meal 24 

Engines and boilers, white lead, 2 pounds at 12c 24 

Lamps and lanterns 10 

Shovels, brooms, and axes 23 

Tools 50 

For twelve hours $3. 66 

Off one-sixth per diem of ten 

hours 61 


More light on the operation of the machinery is given by the 
synopsis of the engine-room log, here following in the form of the 
engineer's weekly report for one of the weeks that the vessel was 
under steam a considerable part of the time: 

























































•paumsuoo tboo jo "tig 

•p9,iisaoo pooAi jo spjog 

■pnj Sammsaoo annx 

•nopee-isdo at saai8a;a; 

•jjo Sauioiq jo arajx 

•^sai ye soaiSag; 

•suoyjiipAai a9ei3Ay 

•mntiouA aSaiaA-y 

•ainssajd aSiusAy 

■pasn samSag; 

■pasn Bj9[ioa 

•oxeafs 3aistui jo anrjx 




o s S "g c ! 

3 S 8.8 &.! 
o 8 f ^ to 

K (B 

; "2 .2 f =3 

i ^^ 

5 J( •« o « 

►< _d .2 _L ■" 

03 CI 3 04 52 


lO CD | 



"? i-ICO rH 


■* -*N ■* 










































When the Fulton was put in commission with a regular com- 
plement of officers and men on board, the question of what to do 
with the engineers as to their quarters and messing arrangements 
came up, and was a difficult one to settle, because there were no pre- 
cedents to follow and no regulations regarding the new class of offi- 
cials. Fortunately for Mr. Haswell, and for those who came after 
him as well, his social status was such, that his place among the offi- 
cers was obviously in the ward room, and to that part of the ship he 
was assigned irrespective of the fact that he held no commission and 
no rank in the service. The precedent thus established of assigning 
the chief engineer to the ward-room operated to the benefit of other 
chief engineers in the following years, until, in 1842, the quarters 
for chief engineers on board ship were specified by law to be in the 
ward-room. The assistant engineers of the Fulton were berthed and 
messed with the warrant officers. 

In April, 1838, the Fulton visited Norfolk and Washington and 
was an object of general attention, especially at the national capitol. 
In September of the same year, in consequence of a discussion that 
was related to the Secretary of the Navy, she was ordered back to 


= D 


Diameter of shells 10 feet, 6 inches. Length, 22 feet. 
Length of furnace, 7 feet. Height of furnace 6 feet, 3 inches. 
Diameter of flues, two upper rows, 16 inches. Lower row, 25 inches. 
Diameter of steam drum, 7 ft, 3 in. Diameter of smoke pipe, 5 ft. 3 in. 

New York for the express purpose of testing her speed with that of 
the British steamer Cheat Western, running between New York and 
Liverpool. The Fulton followed the latter vessel to sea on the oc- 


casion of her regular departure, ranged up alongside and passed her 
rapidly. After being employed in active service along the Atlantic 
coast of the United States until 1842, the Fulton was laid up in or- 
dinary at the New York navy yard, where she remained a neglected 
and useless hulk until 1851. In the latter year the machinery was 
entirely replaced by a different type, designed under the direction of 
Mr. Charles B. Stuart, then engineer-in-chief of the navy. There 
was a single inclined engine mounted on a wooden frame, the cylin 
der being fifty inches in diameter and ten feet four inches stroke, 
provided with a Sickel's cut-off. The old copper boilers were re- 
placed with two wrought iron ones of the double-return, drop-flue 
variety, ten feet six inches in diameter and twenty-two feet long. 
Feathering paddle wheels were substituted for the original radial 
wheels. The shaft of this engine was of wrought iron. 

The hull was hauled on the ways and thoroughly repaired, the 
upper deck and high bulwarks being removed and the interior ar- 
rangements were completely changed because of the altered arrange- 
ment of the machinery, but the original lines of the ship were not 
disturbed. The rig was changed to a two-masted fore-topsail 
schooner. A trial trip was run January 1, 1852, in New York har- 
bor, seventy-one and one-half miles being run under steam between ■ 
various intervals of stopping, sailing, backing, etc., which interrup- 
tions completely destroy the results as a steam trial. The report of 
this trial gives the average steam pressure as twenty-five pounds; 
average vacuum, twenty six inches; average revolutions, twenty- 
one, and average speed, 13.34 miles per hour. For a period of 
twenty-one minutes at the end of the performance, with thirty pounds 
of steam and twenty-three revolutions, the distance run is given as 
seven miles, or at the rate of twenty miles per hour. Unfortunately 
the report does not state the condition of the wind and tide at that 
period, so we do not know whether the high speed was due entirely 
to the engines or not. It is a matter of record, however, that the 
vessel had a reputation in the service as a very fast sieamer. She 
was employed on general cruising duty in the home squadron and 
West Indies for several years, was one of the vessels of the Paraguay 
expedition in 1858, and in 1861 was in ordinary at the Pensacola 
navy yard. 

The Pensacola yard was surrendered to the Confederates Jan- 


nary 10, 1861, and the Fulton thus fell into their hands ; she was 
then in very bad condition, having sometime previously been strand- 
ed and nearly wrecked near Fensacola, but her captors hauled her 
on the building-ways and began repairing her. May 9, 1862, mil- 
itary operations compelled the Confederates to abandon the yard, 
they burning everything behind them. An account of this destruc- 
tion is given in Mr. J. T. Scharf's History of the Confederate 
States Navy, in which account appears the last historical reference 
to this famous old steamer — "The Fulton, that was on the stocks 
in the navy yard, was burned." 

This story of the old Fulton would be incomplete without a 
special reference to the invaluable services rendered by Captain M. 
C. Perry to the steam navy which her example called into life, his 
able championship of engines and engineers in connection with her 
having properly given him a place in our naval history as the father 
of the American steam navy. Matthew C. Perry was a younger 
brother of that other Perry who overcame the British on Lake Erie 
in 1813, which event is so nearly synonymous in the public mind 
with the name of Perry that the deeds of the younger brother, some 
of which were of more lasting importance than the mere winning of 
a battle, have been dimmed by contrast. Captain Perry's services 
to the naval engineer corps in connection with his command of the 
Fulton were both important and lasting, and can best be told by 
quoting from his biography, written by a distinguished civilian, Rev- 
erend Wm. E. Griffis, another of whose books, " The Mikado's 
Empire," has been a source of instruction and pleasure to hundreds 
of our naval officers of the present time who have had the privilege 
of seeing the shores of beautiful Japan: 

" Perry took command of the Fulton October 4th, 1837, when 
the smoke-pipes were up, and the engines ready for an early trial. 
His work meant more than to hasten forward the completion of the 
new steam battery. He was practically to organize an entirely new 
branch of naval economy. There were in the marine war service of 
the United States absolutely no precedents to guide him. 

"Again he had to be 'an educator of the navy.' To show how 
far the work was left to him, and was his own creation, we may 
state that no authority had been given and no steps taken to secure 
firemen, assistant engineers, or coal heavers. The details duties 


qualifications, wages, and status in the navy of the whole engineer 
corps fell upon Perry to settle. He wrote for authority to appoint 
first and second-class engineers. He proposed that $25 to f 30 a 
month, and one ration, should be given as pay to firemen, and that 
they should be good mechanics familiar with machinery, the use of 
stops, cocks, gauges, and the paraphernalia of iron and brass so 
novel on a man-of-war. 

"Knowing that failure in the initiative of the experimental 
steam service might prejudice the public, and especially the incred- 
ulous and sneering old salts who had no faith in the new fangled 
ideas, he requested that midshipmen for the Fulton, should be first 
trained in seamanship prior to their steamer life. He was also 
especially particular about the moral and personal character of the 
'line' officers who were first to live in contact with a new and strange 
kind of 'staff. ' It is difficult in this age of war-steamers, when a 
sailing man-of-war or even a paddle-wheel steamer is a curiosity, to 
realize the jealousy felt by sailors of the old school towards the 
un-naval men of gauges and stop-cocks. They foresaw only too 
clearly that steam was to steal away the poetry of the sea, turn the 
sailor into a coal heaver, and the ship into a machine. 

"Perry demanded in his line officers breadth of view sufficient 
to grasp the new order of things. They must see in the men of 
screws and levers equality of courage as well as of utility. They 
must be of the co-operative cast of mind and disposition. From the 
very first, he foresaw that jealousy amounting almost to animosity 
would spring up between the line and staff officers, between the deck 
and the hold, and he determined to reduce it to a minimum. The 
new middle term between courage and cannon was caloric. He 
would provide precedents to act as anti-friction buffers so as to 
secure a maximum of harmony. 

"That was Matthew Perry — ever magnifying his office and 
profession. He believed that responsibility helped vastly to make 
the man. He suggested that engineers take the oath, and from 
first to last be held to those sanctions and to that discipline, which 
would create among them the esprit so excellent in the line officers. " 


"So shalt thou instant reach the realm assigned, 
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind; 

Though clouds and darkness veiled the encumbered sky, 
Fearless, through darkness and through clouds they fly." 

Alexajsdeb Pope, translation of the Odyssey. 

The Enginbbb— The Mississippi and Missouri — Establishment of the Engineei 
Corps by Act of Congress— Destruction of the Missouri— Career of the 
Mississippi— Steamers Transferred to the Navy from the War Depart- 
ment—The MicmeAW. 

BEFORE the completion of the Fulton, a single steam vessel ap- 
peared in the navy in the form of a small paddle-wheel tug- 
boat of 142 tons, which was bought in Baltimore in 1836 for $18,- 
997, and was named the Engvne&r. This boat had a single beam 
engine of about one hundred horse-power, and one iron flue boiler: 
the vessel was used as a tug and dispatch boat about the Norfolk 
navy yard for a Dumber of years, and also did some service on the 
southern coast as a surveying vessel. Although not a war ves- 
sel in any sense, this craft is here referred to because she was for a 
short time the only steamer in the navy, and was a familiar object 
to the early members of the engineer corps, many of whom were as- 
signed to her for temporary service while getting broken in to the 
rules of the navy. 

In 1839 two boards of officials were convened in Washington 
to consider the method of carrying out the provisions of an act of 
Congress authorizing the construction of two or more steam vessels 
of war. One of these boards was composed of commodores, and was 
directed to " consider and decide upon the qualities and power which 
it was desirable to secure in the vessels:" the other was composed 
of naval constructors and one engineer, Mr. Haswell being the latter, 
with instructions to scrutinize the report of the commodores, and 
determine whether the qualities and powers recommended by them 
could be combined practically, and if so, to prepare the details for 
carrying them out. The result of this labor set in process of con- 
struction two large side-wheel frigates named the Mississippi and 


Missouri, precisely alike in all respects, except the type of engines. 
It is not to be supposed that the inauguration of the policy of build- 
ing steam vessels for the navy was unattended with skepticism and 
opposition; like the application of all great scientific discoveries, the 
introduction of steam power was combatted and misunderstood, abroad 
as well as in our own country. The logic, if it may be so called, of 
the opposition is well indicated by the vehement utterance of Lord 
Napier in the British House of Commons in a speech fiercely antag- 
onistic to the building of steamers of war: "Mr. Speaker, when 
we enter Her Majesty's naval service and face the chances of war, 
we go prepared to be hacked in pieces by cutlasses, to be riddled 
with bullets, or to be blown to bits by shot and shell; but, Mr. 
Speaker, we do not go prepared to be idled alive.'''' 

The principal data common to both the Mississippi and Missouri 
were the following: 

Length over all 229 feet. 

Beam 40 feet. 

Mean draft 19 feet. 

Displacement at mean draft 3,220 tons. 

The vessels were bark-rigged, spreading 19,000 square feet of 
canvas in plain sails to top-gallant sails inclusive. Each vessel had 
three copper boilers of the double return ascending flue variety, 
with three furnaces and eighty square feet of grate surface in each 
boiler; the heating surface of each boiler was 2,000 square feet, or 
exactly twenty-five times the grate surface. The paddle-wheels 
were twenty-eight feet in diameter and eleven feet broad. The bat- 
tery of each vessel consisted of two X-inch and eight VHI-inch 
shell guns. The Mississippi had two side-lever engines with cylin- 
ders seventy-five inches in diameter and seven feet stroke, and the 
Missouri had two inclined direct-acting engines with cylinders sixty- 
two and one-half inches diameter and ten feet stroke: the cubical 
contents of the cylinders of the two vessels were practically the same, 
a difference being made in the length of the stroke to test the relative 
merits of long and short stroke engines. 

The hulls were of wood, that of the Mississippi being con- 
structed at the navy yard, Philadelphia, and that of the Missouri at 
the New York navy yard. The Mississippi's machinery was built 



by Merrick and Towne in the city of Philadelphia, and that for the 
Missouri by the West Point Foundry Association at their works at 
Cold Spring, New York. The machinery for both vessels was de- 
signed by Mr. Charles W. Copeland, referred to in a previous chap- 
ter as the superintending engineer of the West Point Foundry Asso- 
ciation at the time the engines for the Milton were built. He had 
been employed as a consulting engineer for the Board of Navy Com- 
missioners, and, with the title of Principal Engineer, held that posi- 
tion for several years, during which time he did much excellent 
work in designing machinery for the new steam navy, although he 
never was in the naval service in the sense of holding a commission 
as an officer or being amenable to military law and discipline. 

In the fall of 1839, when the work of building these two ves- 
sels began, Mr. Haswell was detached from the Fulton and assigned 
to duty with Mr. Copeland in New York to prepare drawings of 
machinery for both vessels. It was in the course of this work that 
Mr. Haswell laid down the boilers of both the new vessels in full 
size, designed and determined the dimensions of each plate, and 
thus for the first time in the history of boiler manufacture were the 
plates rolled and trimmed to measure. In January, 1840, Mr. 
Faron, the senior engineer of the Fulton, was promoted to be a 
chief engineer, detached from the Fulton and detailed to superin- 
tend the building of the Mississippi's engines in Philadelphia, his 
place on the Fulton being filled by Mr. Andrew Hebard, who was 
appointed chief engineer from civil life. Shortly afterward Mr. 
Haswell was named as superintendent of the engines building for 
the Missouri. 

The two frigates were completed early in 1842, and a number 
of engineers were appointed in the manner indicated by the Depart- 
ment's regulation on the subject, quoted in a former chapter. A re- 
markable fact in connection with the building of these two ships is the 
close parallelism of their cost, although they were built in different 
cities, and had engines radically different in details of construction: 
in 1853 the Navy Department, in obedience to a resolution of the 
House of Kepresentatives, informed Congress that the actual cost of 
the Mississippi to the time of her first sailing, exclusive of ordnance, 
was 1569,670.70, and of the Missouri, $568,806. Mr. Faron was 
the first chief engineer of the Mississippi, and Mr. Hebard of the 



Principal Engineer, U. S. Navy. Designer of the machinery of the 
Mississippi, Missouri, etc. 


Missouri, he being temporarily assigned to that vessel while Mr. 
Haswell was engaged with Mr. Gopeland on the designs of a new 
steamer — the Michigan. This latter work was completed in Octo- 
ber, 1842, when Mr. Haswell returned to the Missouri as her chief 

After the appointments for the two new frigates were made 
there were twenty engineers in the service, with prospects for the 
need of many more in the near future, as the policy of building war 
steamers was so well established that there was no longer any hope 
for success on the part of the conservative element whieh had strug- 
gled against the new order of things so stubbornly. The engineers 
were very much dissatisfied with various anomalies and evils inci- 
dent to their connection with the navy, and began an agitation 
which speedily resulted in the legal establishment of the engineer 
corps as a permanent part of the naval organization. Their pay did 
not compare favorably with the wages of competent engineers in 
civil employment, and consequently was unsatisfactory to them; the 
irregular manner in which they were appointed, and their uncertain 
tenure of office, were also grievances, and early in the year with 
which we are now dealing an incident occurred which so provoked 
the engineers that they felt constrained to lay their troubles before 
Congress. This incident was the appointment as an engineer in the 
navy of a young man who made no pretense to knowledge of engi- 
neering, he being the protege of a powerfnl politician and simply 
wanted a salaried position under the Government, wifchont bothering 
himself as to what the duties of that position might be. That the 
engineers then in the service resented this appointment is good 
proof that there already existed among them that pride in their 
calling and the esprit de corps that have for so long kept them united 
and made continuous progress possible in the midst of many dis- 

Mr. Haswell, as the senior and most prominent of the engineers, 
took the matter in charge, and appealed to Congress for a redress of 
grievances. Mr. Gilbert L. Thompson, a prominent politician and 
man about town in Washington in those days, took up Mr. Haswell' s 
cause and gave him much assistance, although his motives were not 
entirely philanthropic, as we shall presently see. The result of this 
effort was an act of Congress regulating the appointment aad pay of 


engineers in the navy, which act was approved Angast 81, 1842, 
and read in full as follows: 

Section 1. Be it moated, etc.. That the Secretary of the Navy shall appoint 
the requisite number of chief engineers and assistant engineers, not to exceed one 
chief engineer, two first assistant, two second assistant, and three third assistant 
engineers for each steamship of war, for the naval service of the United States, who 
shall be paid, when in actual service, as follows : 

To the chief engineer, fifteen hundred dollars per annum and one ration per 
day ; to the first assistant engineer, nine hundred dollars per annum and one ration 
per day ; to the second assistant engineer, seven hundred dollars per annum and one 
ration per day ; to the third assistant engineer, five hundred dollars per annum and 
one ration per day. The chief engineer shall be entitled to mess in the wardroom of 
ships of war, and in all cases of prize-money he shall share as a lieutenant ; the first 
assistant engineer shall share as a lieutenant of marines ; the second assistant engin- 
eer shall share as a midshipman ; the third assistant engineer shall share as the 
forward officers ; but neither the chief nor the assistant engineers shall hold any 
other rank titan as engineers. 

Sac. 2. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Navy shall be 
authorized to enlist and employ the requisite number of firemen, who shall receive, 
each, thirty dollars per month and one ration per day ; and the requisite number of 
coal-heavers, who shall receive, each, eighteen dollars per month and one ration per 
day ; and the said firemen and coal-heavers shall in all cases of prize-money share as 

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the said chief engineer and the assist- 
ant engineers when waiting orders shall be paid as follows : to the chief engineer, 
twelve hundred dollars per annum ; to the first assistant engineer, seven hundred 
dollars per annum ; to the second assistant engineer, five hundred dollars per annum; 
to the third assistant engineer, three hundred and fifty dollars per annum. 

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Navy shall 
appoint a skillful and scientific engineer-in-chief, who shall receive for his services 
the sum of three thousand dollars per annum, and shall perform such duties as the 
Secretary of the Navy shall require of hhn touching that branch of the service. 

Sec. 5. And be U further enacted, That the Secretary of the Navy shall be 
authorized te prescribe a uniform for the said chief engineers and assistant engineers, 
and to make all necessary rules and regulations for the proper arrangement and 
government of the corps of engineers and assistant engineers not inconsistent with 
the Constitution and laws of the United States. The said engineers and assistant 
engineers shall be in all respects subject to the laws, rules, and regulations of the 
naval service in like manner with other officers of the service. 

Sec. 6. And be « further enacted, That the said chief engineers shall be 
appointed by commission, and the assistant engineers shall be appointed by warrant 
from the Secretary of the Navy, in such form as he may prescribe. 

Sec. 7. And be U further enacted. That the Secretary of the Navy be and he is 
hereby authorized to establish, at such places as he may deem necessary, suitable 
depots of coal or other fuel for the supply of steam ships of war. 

The day following the approval of this act Mr. Gilbert L. 

Thompson w&s appointed engineer-in-chief of the navy ; this to the 


great amazement and disgust of Mr. Haswell, who had seen in him 
only a benevolent and influential gentleman disposed to devote his 
time to the support of the cause simply because it was right. 
Benevolent gentlemen with unlimited time and influence to expend 
in the righting of wrongs abound in the harmless works of fiction 
distributed by the Iract societies, but in real life they are extremely 
rare. Of Mr. Gilbert L. Thompson one of his contemporaries has 
written the author : " Mr. Thompson was a lawyer, and know ab- 
solutely nothing of engineering. He was a gentleman, a scholar, a 
diplomatist, and a son of a previous Secretary of the Navy ; but 
his engineering was purely nominal, and confined to a very prompt 
and efficient drawing of his salary." 

In fhe spring of 1843 }he Missoyrj, affpr a prolonged cruise in 
the Gulf of Mexico, was ordered to Washington, where Mr. Thomp- 
son caused her smoke-pipe, seven feet in diameter, to be removed 
and replaced with two pipes, each three feet six inches in diameter. 
The two pipes diverged oat towards the sides and connected with 
the wheel-houses with the idea that the centrifugal action pf the 
wheels would induce a strong draught by forcing air up through the 
pipes. In this connection it must be known that the boiler room of 
the Missouri was abaft the engines and the wheels consequently 
were forward of the smoke-pipes, which arrangement would have 
seriously interfered with the operation of the forced draught scheme 
in a head wind, even if there had been any merit in it under other 
conditions. Mr. Haswell, the chief engineer of the Missouri, pro- 
tested against the design and declared it impracticable, but his pro- 
fessional opinion was unheeded. Engineer-in-Ohief Thompson was 
so confident of success that he had the members pf the Cabinet in- 
vited on board to witness the trial of his discovery, but they attended 
a funereal feast, for the scheme failed most dismally in operation. A 
scapegoat being necessary, Mr. Haswell was selected and suspended 
from doty because be had "not used sufficiently inflammable ma- 
terial in lighting the fires," although it is not apparent at this late 
date just what the manner of lighting fires would have to do with 
any subsequent performance with steam raised. Mr. Haswell was 
later offered to be restored to duty and proceed with the ship to the 
Mediterranean, where she had been ordered, on condition that be 


would apologize to the captain for hie error ffi, bat this he declined 
to do, notwithstanding the requests of his messmates, saying that he 
would "rather suffer injustice from another than be unjnst to him- 
self." Whereupon he was detached from the vessel and Chief 
Engineer Faron ordered to take his place. 

The experiment, above related, definitely established the fact 
that Mr. Thompson was not an engineer, whatever ability he might 
have in other directions, and his opinions were no longer sought in 
the councils of the Navy Department. After leaving the Missouri, 
Mr. Haswell was employed in designing machinery for four Revenue 
cutters, and in December was completely vindicated for his affair on 
the Missowri by being ordered to the Navy Department and assigned 
to the duties of engineer-in-chief ; October 3 of the following year 
(1844) Mr. Thompson's name was dropped from the list and Mr. 
Haswell was regularly appointed engineer-in-chief of the navy. 

The smoke-pipe of the Missouri was restored to its original 
form and the vessel proceeded to the Mediterranean, arriving at 
Gibraltar on the 25th of August after a voyage of nineteen days 
from the Capes of the Ghesapeake. The next day, August 26, 
1843, the engineer's yeoman broke a demijohn of spirits of tur- 
pentine in the store-room, which ignited and started a fire that 
spread so rapidly that all hope of saving the vessel had to be aban- 
doned, and the crew barely escaped with their lives. In a few 
hours this splendid vessel was reduced to a blackened and sinking 
hulk. Her commander, Captain J. T. Newton, and Chief Engineer 
John Faron, Jr. , were tried by court-martial upon their return home 
and were sentenced to suspension from duty, the former for a period 
of two years, and the latter for one year, which sentences were re- 
mitted after the captain had served four months and the chief 
engineer eight months. Congress appropriated sixty thousand dol- 
lars later to be expended in removing the sunken wreck from Gib- 
raltar harbor. When chief engineer of the Missouri the year 
before she burned, Mr. Haswell had asked for a leaden tank in 
which to keep the spirits of turpentine, but the requisition was 

The Mississippi had a long and famous career, but eventually 
met a far more tragic fate than did her sister ship. She is said to 
have been a beautiful vessel, and from having had a succession of 



able commanders and common-sense officers in full accord with each 
other, she won the enviable reputation of being a "happy ship," 
and with this reputation was the most popular and best known of all 
the steamers of the old navy. She was the flagship of Commodore 
M. C. Perry in the Mexican War, and also his flagship in the expe- 
dition to Japan • she carried the famous Hungarian exile, Kossuth, 
from Turkey to France, and brought a number of his fellow-exiles 
to the United States. As the flagship of Flag Officer Josiah Tatnall 
in 1859 she was present at the engagement in the Pei lio river, 


where the " blood is thicker than water," sentiment is said to have 
originated, and at the outbreak of the Civil War was one of the first 
vessels to go to the front. She had twice circumnavigated the globe, 
and it was said of her, probably truly, that she had cruised more 
miles under steam than any war vessel of her time. Eventually a 
combination of circumstances, so strange that their suggestion during 
her palmy days would have been scouted as the climax of absurdity, 
brought this noble frigate with hostile intent into the great river 


■whose name she had so long and so worthily carried about the 
world, and there one dark night in a storm of shot and shell, in lire 
and smoke, she sank to her long rest, a coffin for many of her crew, 
on the bosom of her false sod-mother. 

"While the Mississippi and Missouri were being built, the Gov- 
ernment was bringing to an end a long and bloody war with the 
Seminole Indians of Florida. It had been decided to remove this 
tribe from its lands and deport it to the wilds beyond the western 
frontiers, but when efforts were made to carry the decision into effect 
the savages declined to be moved, they viewing the matter in the 
same light that we may imagine the present inhabitants of Florida 
would regard a similar project to eject them from their homes and 
belongings. Under their great chief, Osceola, the Seminoles took 
up arms and a long and devastating war followed, costing the United 
States ten million dollars and nearly fifteen hundred lives. The re- 
sult was the same as of all other weary struggles on this continent of 
the original possessors of the soil against the encroachments of the 
dominant race, and the aborigines went to the wall. The nature of 
the country in which the struggle took place made the employment 
of small steamers for the transportation of men and war material 
absolutely necessary, and the War Department accordingly found 
itself with a number of such vessels on its hands when the Seminole 
War was over, three of which were disposed of by transfer to the 
Navy Department. 

The steamers thus added to the navy establishment were the 
General Taylor, of 152 tons; the Colonel Harney, of 300 tons, and 
the Poinsett, of 250 tons. They were employed for a few years on 
the Florida waters to prevent the spoliation of Government live oak 
preserves, one or two naval engineers being usually attached to 
each. The Poinsett was sold in 1845 for $5,000, and the Harney 
was returned to the War Department in 1846. The General Taylor, 
after being the tender at the Pensacola navy yard for several years, 
was sold in 1852 for $3,000. 

In 1841 and 1842 plans were prepared for the paddle-wheel 
steamer Michigan, the hull being designed by Naval Constructor 
Samuel Hartt, and the engines and boilers by Mr. C. W. Copelaud. 
There were two inclined direct acting condensing engines, placed 
side by side, the cylinders being 36 inches in diameter and eight 



feet Btroke; these engines are now, more than fifty years after the 
Michigan was first commissioned, still in the vessel and in excellent 
working order. The two original return-fine iron boilers lasted 
nearly fifty years, they having been replaced as recently as the 
winter of 1892-93. The engines and boilers were built by Stack- 
house & Tomlinson in Pittsburgh, Pa. The hull was built of iron, 
the plates, frames and other iron material being all prepared in 
Pittsburgh ready for assembling and then transported overland to 
Erie, Pa. , where the vessel was put together and launched in 1843, 
making her first cruise on the Great Lakes in 1844. She was the 
first iron vessel afloat on those waters, and is still in active service, 
a striking illustration of the difference between fresh and salt water 
as agents for the deterioration of iron vessels. It should be men- 
tioned, however, that the extraordinary longevity of the Michigan 
is partly due to the fact that she has to lie up in a winter harbor for 
about six months each year, and thus the chances for her untimely 
destruction by the usual perils of the sea have been reduced one- 
half. The first commander of the Michigan was William Inman, 
and her first chief engineer Andrew Hebard. 


•* A little learning is a dangerous thing." 

Alexander Pops. 

Experiments with the *' Hunter Wheel"— The Uhiojt— The Watkb Witch— The 
Aulbbitakt — The Stevens Battery. 

T H~R work of the engineers in designing and building machinery 
for the new naval steamers, while it exeited suspicion and op- 
position from some who were well satisfied with the navy as it was, 
attracted a certain amount of admiration from others and it was not 
long before amateur imitators of their work sprung up in the ser- 
vice. Early in 1842, Lieutenant W. W. Hunter of the navy se- 
cured a patent for a submerged wheel, claiming a great improve- 
ment over the ordinary side wheels in propelling vessels. Experi- 
ments were made on the old canal in Washington with a small boat 
named the Germ, fitted with Hunter's wheels, and the results ob- 
tamed presented to the Navy Department in such a favorable light 
that it was determined to build a war-steamer to test the invention 
on a large scale. 

He Hunter wheel consisted essentially of a dram with the pad- 
dles projecting from its surface like the teeth of a large gear wheel 
or pinion; the axis of the wheel was placed vertically and the wheel 
so located in the vessel, below the water line, that as it revolved the 
paddles, when at right angles to the keel, would project their whole 
width from the side of the ship through a suitable aperture. To 
keep the water from flowing into the ship through this opening the 
drum was eased inside the ship with a box or coffer-dam made to fit 
as closely as safety permitted, in practice a clearance of about two 
inches on all sides being allowed. A wheel was fitted on each side 
of the ship. In operation it will be observed that this wheel would 
act on the water on precisely the same principle as that governing 
the ordinary side wheel, but unlike the latter its idle side, instead of 
revolving through the air. had to do work all the time by sweeping 
around the water inside the casing. It had an advantage in dispens- 
ing with the large wheel-houses which were exposed to shot and of- 
fered much resistance to the wind, beside blocking space belonging 



to broadside gum, bat this was practically offset by the disadvantage 
of having so much space in the hold occupied by the drum cases, 
while the enormous loss of work involved in constantly churning the 
water inside the cases, appeared at once to every engineer and me- 
chanic to be a fatal defect in the device. 

Sketch showing section of vessel and arrangement of Hunter's wheels. 
This is a reproduction of a drawing submitted by Lieut. Hunter to the Navy De- 
partment under date of Nov. 29, 1843, and is particularly interesting from the fact 
that It shows the principle of the protective or shield deck, believed by many to 
be a recent invention. None of Hunter's vessels had such a deck as built. This 
drawing was first published in the annual report of the secretary of the navy, 
about 1844. 

However, the Navy Department ordered the building of a ves- 
sel on Mr. Hunter's plans and the work was carried out at the Nor- 
folk navy yard in 1842. The vessel, named the Union, was 185 
feet long, 33 feet beam, and displaced 900 tons on a draft of eleven 
feet The rig was that of a three-masted topsail schooner, and the 
battery consisted of four 68-pounder guns. The engines were built 
at the Washington navy yard according to Mr. Hunter's ideas and 
consisted of a horizontal non-condensing engine for each wheel, the 
cylinders being twenty-eight inches in diameter and four feet stroke. 
There were three iron tubular boilers, eighteen feet long and six feet 
six inches in diameter, they being of the usual commercial pattern for 


land service. The propelling wheels were fourteen feet in diameter, 
each fitted with twenty paddles four feet long and ten inches wide. 

The Union was completed at the end of 1842 and Mr. William 
P. Williamson, who had assisted Mr. Hunter in his experiments 
with the Gwm, was appointed a chief engineer in the nary and 
ordered to the new vessel. In 1843 she was engaged in experi- 
mental cruising about the coast, under command of Lieutenant Hun- 
ter, but was unable to develop a better average than five knots per 
hour, while the slip or lost work of the wheels in pumping water 
through the drum cases, was from fifty to seventy per cent. The 
boilers, carrying nearly one hundred pounds of steam for the high- 
pressure engines, rapidly accumulated scale causing an equally rapid 
deterioration, they being intended only for land service, were un- 
provided with means or accessibility for scaling, and in about a year 
new boilers fit for use at sea were supplied from designs of Chief 
Engineer Haswell, but the wheels continued to waste their energy 
by acting as centrifugal pumps instead of propelling the vessel. An 
average of five knots on a daily expenditure of eighteen tons of coal 
was the best that could be done with the ship. With a favorable 
wind she made on some occasions nine and ten knots for short peri- 
ods, and Lieutenant Hunter reported one performance of about 
twelve knots sustained for five hours with a moderate breeze. In 
1846 it was concluded the engines were not powerful enough, so 
they were removed and replaced with a pair of condensing engines, 
four feet stroke and forty inches diameter of cylinders; at the same 
time the boilers were thoroughly repaired and the wheels so altered 
that they had ten paddles each instead of twenty, the new paddles be- 
ing four feet long and two feet wide; all this failed to increase the 
efficiency of the wheels and the Union was finally, in 1848, put to 
nse as a receiving ship at the Philadelphia navy yard. The ma- 
chinery was removed at this time and sold for $3,840. The total 
cost of this experiment was: 

Hull, to period of first sailing $107,065.67 

Engines and dependencies, do 51,062.93 

Repairs at various times 68,549.13 

Total..., $226,677.78 



While the troubles of the "Hunter wheel " in the Union werft 
progressing, similar experience was being gained with a small iron 
steamer named the Water Witch. This vessel was built at the 
Washington navy yard in 1843 from Lieutenant Hunter's plans and 
was intended for a steam water tank to supply the vessels at the 
Norfolk station, but when completed it was discovered that she could 
not go through the locks of the Dismal Swamp canal, which had to 
be done in order to get at the water supply, so she was fitted for a 
harbor vessel and tug. Her length was 100 feet and beam 21 feet; 
the machinery consisted of two non-condensing engines with cylin- 
ders 22 inches in diameter and four feet stroke, driving two Hunter 
wheels 16 feet in diameter. The maximum speed of this contri- 
vance was six and one-half knots per hour, which was so unsatisfac- 
tory considering her small size and great power, that the vessel was 
condemned and taken to Philadelphia to be rebuilt. The experi- 
ment with the Hunter wheel in this vessel stops at this point, but it 
will be interesting to trace the subsequent career of the Water Witch 
since she has been introduced. 


A peculiarity claimed by the inventor for thir instrument was that it was 
not a screw because "the propeller blades form an angle with the center line in 
the same," 


At Philadelphia the vessel was lengthened thirty feet and the 
entire machinery removed, new machinery driving a " Loper " pro- 
peller as an experiment being substituted. This also was pronoun- 
ced unsatisfactory, although when tried by a committee of the Frank- 
lin Institute in the Delaware river a speed of nearly nine knots was 
obtained, and in 1847 an inclined condensing engine driving side 
wheels, designed by Engineer-in-Chief Haswell, was substituted. 
With this alteration the Water Witch was actively employed in the 
Gulf during the Mexican War, but she had been the victim of so 
much patch- work on an originally faulty model that it required much 
labor to keep her in working order. In 1851 she sailed from Nor- 
folk for a coastwise voyage and hopelessly broke down on the first 
day out, after which exploit the machinery was removed and the hull 
put to good practical use as a target for gunnery practice at Washing- 
ton. The machinery being perfectly good, a new hull of wood, 
somewhat larger than the old was built at the Washington yard in 
1852 and a reasonably efficient little gunboat thus produced, still 
bearing the original name. This new steamer was employed for a 
number of years in the Rio de la Plata region of South America, 
and later saw some very active service during the first three years 
of the Civil War. June 3, 1864, she was captured in Ossabaw 
Sound by a large boarding party of the enemy after a most desper- 
ate struggle, in which her paymaster, Mr. Luther G. Billings, killed 
Lieutenant Pelot the Confederate commander in a hand-to-hand fight, 
and also saved the life of his own commanding officer by killing the 
man who had cut him down and was about to despatch him. The 
Union prisoners were taken to Savannah where they came under the 
control of the Confederate officer commanding that naval station, and 
who, singularly enough, was the same Hunter whose wheels had pro- 
pelled the original Water Witch, he having resigned as a commander in 
1861 and cast his fortunes with the Confederacy. The coincidence 
does not seem to have appealed to his magnaminity to any great ex- 
tent, for it is a matter of official record that he treated his prisoners 
with considerable harshness. 

To return to the experience of the Navy Department with the 
Hunter wheel. The experiments with the Union and Water Witch 
not being conclusive to Mr. Hunter and his supporters, the Depart- 
ment was prevailed upon to try the invention on a larger scale than 


before. On the 11th of July, 1843, the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. 
A. P. Upshur, directed Captain Beverly Kennon, chief of the Bu- 
reau of Construction, ' ' to take proper steps for building at Pitts- 
burgh, Pennsylvania, an iron steamer on plans to be submitted by 
Lieutenant William W. Hunter," and a contract was accordingly 
made with Joseph Tomlinson for an iron steamer on Hunter's plan, 
together with engines, propellers, machinery, and all metal appurte- 
nances, and Lieutenant Hunter was ordered by the Navy Depart- 
ment to superintend the construction of the whole. Work on this 
vessel, named the Alleghany, began in 1844 and was completed in 
April, 1847, when she descended the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to 
New Orleans, and thence steamed around to Norfolk, Ya. 

The Alleghany was 185 feet long, 33 feet beam, 13 feet 6 inches 
mean draft, at which her displacement was 1,020 tons. She was 
bark-rigged and mounted originally four 8-inch Paixham guns, 
weighing 10,000 pounds each, but this battery was reduced one-half 
before the vessel sailed for a foreign cruise. There were two hori- 
zontal condensing engines with cylinders of four feet stroke and 60 
inches diameter, and two iron return-flue boilers containing 2,000 
square feet of heating surface and 55 square feet of grate surface each. 
The boilers were designed by Mr. Haswell, but the engines and hull 
were Mr. Hunter's, modified by such suggestions as he collected 
from the engineers and constructors. The horizontal propelling 
wheels were 14 feet 8 inches outside diameter, fitted with eight pad- 
dles each, the paddles being 3 feet 6 inches long and 2 feet 2 inches 

On the trip from New Orleans to Norfolk the mean results of 
her best steaming performances in smooth sea and calms gave a 
speed of 4.9 knots on an expenditure of 2,000 pounds of coal per 
hour. At Norfolk it was concluded to cut out every other paddle, 
leaving only four in each wheel, and thus altered the Alleghany 
sailed for Brazil, on which station and in the Mediterranean she was 
employed until 1849, when she returned to the United States and 
went on duty in the Gulf of Mexico until October of that year. 
After the reduction of the paddles the average performance for 
eighty-eight hours' steaming at sea in calm weather was 5.9 knots 
per hour on an hourly consumption of 2,096 pounds of coal. The 
mean results of eleven hundred and ninety hours under steam and 


sail in the Atlantic and Mediterranean during her cruise were as 

Mean pressure in boilers 11.77 pounds 

Throttle One-half open 

Cut-off 28. 100 of stroke 

Coal consumption per hour 1, 940 pounds 

Average revolution of wheels 27.2 per minute 

Vacuum 25 inches 

Speed of vessel per log 5,883 knots 

Upon the return of the Alleghany from the Gulf of Mexico in 
October, 1849, a survey was held on her by order of Commodore 
C. W. Skinner, chief of the Bureau of Construction, etc. , the board 
of survey being composed of Commander J. B. Montgomery, Naval 
Constructor John Lenthal, Engineer-in- Chief C. H. Haswell, Chief 
Engineer Wm. P. Williamson, and Mr. Wm. Ellis, the supervising 
engineer of the Washington navy yard. Their report was a con- 
demnation of the Hunter wheel, and a recommendation to substitute 
a common side wheel, but as the engines could be adapted to a 
screw propeller, and not to paddle wheels, a propeller was decided 
upon, as the cost of new engines would thereby be saved. This re- 
port definitely ended the career of Hunter's wheel and put a stop to 
needless expenditure of public money. The entire history of these 
experiments in the navy only confirms the correctness of an old adage 
a ' ' shoemaker should stick to his last. ' ' 

The actual cost of the Alleghany to the period of her departure 
from Pittsburg was: 

Hull and fittings $118,635.27 

Engines, boilers, fittings and connections 113,640.65 

Patent right for Hunter's wheels 10,320.00 

Total $242,595.92 

In 1851-52 the Alleghany was rebuilt at the works of A. Me- 
haffy & Co. , Portsmouth, Ya. , under the supervision of Chief En- 
gineer Wm. P. Williamson, U. S. Navy. The iron hull, having 
been constructed by an establishment accustomed to building vessels 


for river service, had been found too weak for rough cruising in the 
open sea, a number of frames having buckled inward, and an at- 
tempt to remedy this was made by putting in additional frames and 
braces. The openings in the side for the Hunter wheels were built 
in, and a new stern post, suitable for the passage of a propeller shaft, 
was substituted for the old one. The cylinders of the old engines, 
which worked fore and aft, were used in the new engine to work 
athwartBhip from the diagonally opposite corners of a new bed plate, 
the connecting rods reaching backward from cross-tails, and many 
of the minor parts of the old engines were likewise adapted in the 
new structure. The alterations in the engines were regarded by en- 
gineers at the time as very ingenious and were devised by Mr. B. 
F. Isherwood, a young chief engineer who had entered the service 
a few years previously. His arrangement of the cylinders with a 
back-acting motion, will be recognized as the fore-runner of the type 
so universally known some years later as the Isherwood engine. 

Three new iron boilers, aggregating 5,500 square feet of heating 
surface and 200 square feet of grate surface were provided; these were 
of an English patent type known as ' ' Lamb and Summer ' ' boilers, 
hitherto unknown in the United States, although used successfully 
to some extent in England. They were installed in the Alleghany 
at the instance of Mr. Charles B. Stuart, the engineer-in-chief at the 
time, a royalty of forty-five cents per superficial foot of heating sur- 
face being paid to the patentees. Pirsson's patent double- vacuum 
condenser, to which was attached an evaporator for making up the 
waste of fresh water, was fitted in this steamer at this time, which 
was the first appearance in our naval service of that once popular 
type of condenser. 

The cost of all these alterations and additions was about $130,- 
000, which, when added to the original cost of the vessel and about 
$25,000 spent for repairs when she was in service, brings the total 
cost up to nearly $400,000. , 

The screw propeller was made of cast iron, 13^ feet in diame- 
ter, with four blades 3£ feet wide, having an expanding pitch from 
27 to 33 feet. So curious was this propeller in comparison with the 
modern pear-shaped development of the same instrument, that a re- 
duced copy of the original drawing is shown on next page, the au- 
thor feeling confident it will interest all his readers who ever had 
any connection with the profession of marine engineering, 




The Alleghany was promised for the Perry expedition to Japan, 
which fitted out in the summer of 1852, but so many vexatious de- 
lays in her rebuilding occured that she was not ready for a steam 
trial until nearly a year after Commodore Perry sailed for Japan in 
the Mississippi. On trial the Alleghany proved to be an absolute 
and unqualified failure; the hull was too weak to withstand the action 
of the engines and this resulted in the engine bed plates breaking in 
several places; the boilers were entirely inadequate for supplying the 


engines with steam, and things were at sixes and sevens generally. 
Misfortunes with other ships will be referred to in due time, which 
occurred during the same year and with the fiasco of the Alleghmy 
caused public attention and much adverse criticism to be directed at 
the management of the Navy Department. Mr. Secretary Dobbin, 
in response to the popular clamor, organized a board of engineers 
with instructions to institute a searching investigation, not only as to 
the causes of the disasters, but also the officers or individuals who 
were responsible. This board consisted of Engineer-in-Ohief D. B. 
Martin (Mr. Stuart had resigned in June of that year); Chief Engi- 
neer Henry Hunt, U. S. Navy, and Mr. C. W. Copeland. Mr. John 
Lenthal, the chief constructor of the navy, was ordered to act with 
the board and advise its members in matters relating to his specialty. 


In the case of the Alleghany, the report of this board was not 
especially flattering to any who had been concerned in her building 
and repair, amounting to a general condemnation of the vessel as be- 
ing totally unsuited for naval purposes. The hull, originally built 
for the reception of Hunter's wheels, was of a very peculiar form, 
the cross section being shaped like an inverted bell; a shape mani- 
festly inconsistent with structural strength to withstand outside pres- 
sure, as well as a dangerous model for sailing, and it was found that 
the additional frames put in were so placed and fastened as not to 
add to the strength, while considerably increasing the weight. The 
English boilers, originally adopted as experimental, had been radic- 
ally altered after another set of the same boilers had failed in another 
ship — the Princeton — and this fact was unfavorably dwelt upon by 
the board, although there was no reason for believing that this type 
would have been successful in the Alleghany after it had failed in 
another case. Chief Engineer Isherwood was scored for not provid- 
ing, in the design and strength of the engine frames, for the weak- 
ness of the ship's bottom, and on his side he of course contended 
that it was> his task to provide an engine only ; not a hull to support 
it. With more experience, at a later period of his professonal ca- 
reer, when it became his duty to provide power for a great number 
of war vessels with all sorts of hulls, his engine frames were made 
proof against any amount of racking they might receive, and then a 
hue and cry was raised again, not because the engines were too light, 
but because they were too heavy. Philosophers say that it is much 
easier to be critical than correct, and the belief that the most suc- 
cessful critics are those who have failed in other callings has long 
since passed into a proverb. 

The great fault in this affair appears, from a careful study of 
the documents in the case, to have been the original attempt to make 
a serviceable war vessel out of a structure that in shape and scant- 
ling of material was utterly unfit for the reception of adequate power. 
After her lamentable failure the Alleghany was laid up in ordinary 
at Washington navy yard for a year or two and was then moved to 
Baltimore, where she remained for many years as a store ship, be- 
ing eventually sold in 1869 for $5, '250. 

During this same experimental period a project for constructing 
an iron-clad steam battery was submitted to the government by Mr. 
Robert L. Stevens of Hoboken, New Jersey, and was so well re- 


ceived that Congress, by an act approved April 14, 1842, r author- 
ized the Secretary of the Navy to enter into contract with Mr. Ste- 
vens "for the construction of a war steamer, shot and shell proof, 
to be built principally of iron, upon the plan of the said Stevens," 
the act appropriating two hundred and fifty thousand dollars towards 
carrying the law into effect and providing that the whole cost of the 
steamer should not exceed the average cost of the Mississippi and 
Missouri. Although the steamer thus originated was never com- 
pleted, and its history reached forward into a period far ahead of 
that with which we have yet begun to deal, it was such an object of 
interest to the early engineers that it is' entitled to mention in this 
place, especially as the present chapter has been devoted to the re- 
cital of upset theories and blasted hopes. 

Mr. Stevens was the son of the famous American inventor, John 
Stevens, who, as early as 1804, had snccessfully operated a Email 
experimental steamer with twin screw propellers in place of paddle- 
wheels; who, in 1812, had prepared a complete set of plans for a 
circular iron-clad steam battery, and whose name was for many years 
intimately associated with the beginning of steam navigation and 
railway operations in this country. Robert L. Stevens inherited his 
father's inventive genius and his incomplete inventions, among them 
the idea of the armored steam battery. The original plan for this 
vesssel was for a large iron steamer (about two hundred and fifty 
feet long) to be protected with plates of four and one-half inch iron 
armor plate, Mr. Stevens having proved to the satisfaction of the 
Coast Defense Board, composed of army and navy officers, that iron 
plates of this thickness could withstand the fire of any possible gun. 
Unfortunately for Stevens, another great genius, who will appear 
prominently in the next chapter, arrived on the scene about this time 
with a large wrought-iron gun of English manufacture, with which he 
proceeded to demonstrate by actual experiments that plates of iron 
four and one-half inches thick could be easily penetrated. This was 
a great discouragement to Mr. Stevens and occasioned so much offi- 
cial interference with his work that the project languished until 1854, 
when work on a modified battery was begun in earnest and carried 
almost to completion before it was brought to a stand still by the 
death of Mr. Stevens in 1856. The vessel thus constructed was 
much larger than the original design, being 420 feet long, 53 feet 
beam, and of about 6,000 tons displacement. The iron armor pro- 


jected for this formidable craft was to be six and three quarter inches 
in thickness. 

The machinery, which was completed in 1856, was designed for 
8,600 horse-power, then an enormous engine power and equal to that 
of the f amouB Cheat Eastern. The vessel had twin screws, the shafts 
being eight feet apart at the engines and diverging towards the stern, 
at which point they were twenty-two feet apart; they also were 
designed to point down a little to get a better hold of the water, the 
screw ends being about a foot lower than the engine ends. The to- 
tal length of each shaft was 184 feet, with a maximum diameter of 
seventeen inches. Each shaft was operated by a row of four verti- 
cal cylinders placed outboard of the shaft and connected to the cranks 
by means of overhead walking beams six feet long and the usual in- 
terposition of connecting rods, an arrangement that engineers fami- 
liar with our modern navy will recognize as remarkably like the beam 
engines adopted by the Advisory Board for the Chicago. The cyl- 
inders of these two sets of engines were all of the same dimensions, 
viz: forty-five inches in diameter and forty-two inches stroke. The 
four cranks of each shaft were placed ninety degrees apart, and the 
crank shafts, forged separately, were coupled together in a manner 
closely similar to modern practice. The engine frames were built 
up of iron plates. The fore-and-aft fire-room, seventy-six feet long, 
had five boilers on each side, aggregating 26, 000 square feet of heating 
surface. Unlike the typical boilers of that time, these boilers were 
fitted with tubes two and a quarter inches in diameter instead of the 
large flues so generally used. 

Up to this time the government had appropriated five hundred 
thousand dollars for this undertaking and the inventor had expended 
two hundred thousand dollars of his own money on it be*sides. At 
Eobert Stevens' death, the unfinished structure became the property 
of his two brothers, Edwin A. and John C. Stevens, who, being very 
wealthy from having successfully followed out the railway and shipping 
enterprises of their father, offered in 1 8 6 1 to complete the vessel at their 
own expense if the government would pay for it if it proved to be 
successful. This liberal offer was rejected by the Navy Department 
through the medium of a board of naval officers who reported ad- 
versely to the project, in spite of the fact that the country was sorely 
in need of armored vessels and at that very time another naval 
board was in daily session listening to the claims of every inventor 


who came along with a scheme of any kind for an iron clad. In an 
effort to prove the practicability of their plan the Stevens brothers 
fitted out at their own expense a small steamer named the Nauga- 
tuck, with their arrangement of protective armor, and loaned her to 
the Navy Department; this craft was in action at Drury's Bluff on 
the James river in 1862 and had to fall out of battle owing to the 
bursting of her Parrott gun, so her armor did not receive the desired 
test, and she never figured as a national vessel on the official navy list. 

In 1868 Mr. Edwin A. Stevens died, and by the terms of his will 
gave the unfinished battery to the State of New Jersey, bequeathing 
$1,000,000 to be used in completing it. General George B. MeClel- 
lan of Army of the Potomac fame, was appointed as the engineer to 
determine on the plans for completing the vessel, and Mr. Isaac New- 
ton, who as an engineer in the navy during the war had won a high 
professional reputation, was appointed General McClellan's techni- 
cal assistant. These officials determined to convert the structure 
into a ram, with a revolving turret similar to that of Ericsson's moni- 
tor type. " The bow was strengthened accordingly, an inner skin, on 
the double bottom principal, and transverse water-tight bulkheads 
were introduced, and the old machinery was entirely replaced with 
ten large boilers and two sets of powerful engines of the ' ' Maudsley 
& Field" vertical overhead-crosshead type, designed to propel the 
vessel at a speed of fifteen knots per hour. 

In 1874 the million dollars left by Mr. Stevens was exhausted and 
the vessel not yet completed, although far enough along to justify 
the claim that she would be the most formidable war vessel in the 
world if completed. New Jersey was not disposed to spend the 
necessary money for her completion and opened negotiations for her 
sale to the' United States, a bargain to that end being practically 
completed so far as the Navy Department was concerned, but Con- 
gress refused to appropriate the money to make the necessary pay- 
ments, and the structure fell back upon the hands of the State of 
Bew Jersey. Proposals for her sale, either as a whole or in parts, 
were then advertised, and in 1874 and 1875 the most of the material 
and machinery was disposed of in that way, even the new engines 
being sold for old iron. 

Although borne on the official navy list as a national vessel for 
several years, this troublous craft never had any other name than 
the designation of the "Stevens Battery." 


' 'Ericsson's careei proved that the pencil, as well as the pen, is mightier than 
the sword. Napoleon did not effect greater changes in the face of Europe than has 
Ericsson produced in naval warfare, and these latter are lasting, while the former 
have long since passed into other forms." 

J. Vaushan Merrick in Church's Life of John Ericsson. 

Introduction of the Screw Propeller— John Ericsson.— The Princeton, and Her 
Remarkable Engine. — Great-gun Accident on the Princeton and Consequent 
Breach of Friendship Between Ericsson and Captain Stockton. — Subsequent 
Career of the Princeton. 

THIS narrative of the early steam vessels and engineers of our 
navy has now progressed to the point where there appears on 
the scene the most remarkable marine engineer whose genius has ever 
impressed itself upon the engineering practice of the world, his 
advent into our naval history being due to the adoption of a war- 
steamer, the product of his brain, which in many particulars rad- 
ically and successfully departed from the accepted dogmas of 
engineers of the time regarding the application of steam power to 
marine propulsion. Experiments with screw propellers of various 
types had been made in the United States, England, and, elsewhere / 
and the practicability of the instrument had been visibly demons- 
trated by more than one inventor, notwithstanding which many 
engineers persisted in maintaining that its theoretical loss by oblique 
action, and other alleged defects, were fatal to its adoption in 
practice. Foremost among the experimenters in England was the 
Swedish engineer, John Ericsson, who, failing to gain recognition 
from the Admiralty although he had constructed entirely successful 
screw-propelled vessels, left that country in disgust and came to the 
United States, if not at the instance, certainly to the gratification of 
Captain Richard F. Stockton of the U. S. Navy. 

Captain Stockton had been in England at the time the experi- 
ments with Ericsson's propeller were attracting public attention and 
he became thoroughly converted to the importance and value of the 
invention. Becoming well acquainted with the great engineer, he 
had talked to him at length of his wish to have the United States 


Government build a steamer on Ericsson's plan of propulsion, and 
had made many nattering promises of success to the latter should 
he ever take up the practice of his profession in America. The Act 
of Congress of 1839, under which the Mississippi and Missowi were 
built, had authorized the construction of three vessels, and at the 
urgent and repeated solicitations of Captain Stockton the Depart- 
ment, late in 1841, directed the construction of the third vessel from 
plans suggested by him. As soon as authority to build the ship was 
granted, Stockton summoned Ericsson to his aid and engaged him 
to make all the necessary designs for the hull and machinery, as 
well as to act as general superintendent of the construction of the 

This vessel, named the Princeton after Captain Stockton's 
home town in New Jersey, was built in Philadelphia during the 
years 1842 and 1843, the hull at the navy yard and the machinery 
by the engineering firm of Merrick and Towne. She was 164 feet 
long, 30£ feet beam, and displaced 954 tons at her mean draft of 


16£ feet. The peculiarity of model consisted in a very flat floor 
amidships, with great sharpness forward and excessive leanness aft, 


the run being remarkably fine. She was ship-rigged, spreading 
fourteen thousand four hundred and thirteen square feet of canvas 
in plain sails. The screw propeller originally used was of the form 
known as " the Ericsson " : it was composed of a cast brass hub 
with six arms, the latter being surrounded by a copper band or 
drum, on which six brass blades were riveted, the general appear- 
ance of the instrument being shown as in the annexed sketch. Both 
arms and blades were of true helicoidal twist. In Mr. Kobert Mac- 
farlane's History of Steam Navigation, published in 1851, this form 
of propeller is thus spoken of: — "The advantage of the Ericsson 
screw is in having a ring within the arms, whereby any number of 
blades can be fixed, and a large area of surface obtained." The 
Princeton's propeller was of the following dimensions : 

Diameter, extreme 14 feet. 

Diameter of drum 8 

Diameter of hub 1 " 8 in. 

Pitch of screw 35 

Length of hub and arms in direction of axis. 2 

Width of blades 4 " 1 in. 

Weight of screw 12,000 pounds. 

In 1845, about a year after the completion of the vessel, the 
original propeller was removed and a six-bladed screw without any 
supporting drum was substituted, the new screw being 14£ feet in 
diameter, 32^^ feet pitch, with blades about 4£ feet wide. Experi- 
ments made on the Princeton under similar conditions showed that 
the common screw was about 11 per cent, more efficient than 
Ericsson's. The Princeton had three iron boilers, designed by 
Ericsson to burn hard coal, aggregating 2,420 square feet of heat- 
ing surface and 124 square feet of grate surface. 

The Princeton was the first screw steam, ww-vessel ever built, 
although followed closely by H. M. S. Battler, launched soon after 
she was. The Battler was begun some time before the Princeton 
and was intended originally for side- wheels, but was changed while 
building owing to a change in sentiment regarding screw propellers. 
To this circumstance may be attributed the fact that the Battler is 
frequently claimed to have been the first screw war-steamer. The 
Princeton was also the first vessel of war in which all the machinery 


was placed entirely below the water line out of reach of shot. She 
was also the first war-vessel with boilers designed to burn anthracite 
coal, thus avoiding the volume of black smoke to betray her presence 
to an enemy : blowers were used for the first time in naval practice, 
and she was the first steamer provided with a telescopic smoke pipe. 
Ericsson was the first engineer to couple the engine direct to the 
screw shaft, other experimenters with screws using intermediate 
gearing in deference to the theories of the day. 

The engine of the Princeton may be roughly described as a 
half-cylinder, in which a rectangular piston vibrated like a barn door 
on its hinges, and was beyond doubt the most remarkable modifica- 
tion of the steam engine ever carried into successful practice. The 
principle of a vibrating rectangular piston is an*old mechanical 
device, so old, in fact, that it was embraced in Watt's patent as one 
of the modes of transmitting the power of steam to machinery, but, 
until Ericsson's time ; engineers had failed to build successful 
engines on this plan. Ericsson's plan differed radically from pre- 
vious attempts, from the fact, that he introduced, opposite the main 
semi-cylinder, a much smaller one with its piston a prolongation of 
of the large one on the opposite side of the shaft, both being acted 
on by the steam at the same time and the difference in their powers 
being the effective force transmitted to the crank levers. 

In the Princeton this combined or double semi-cylinder was 
eight feet long and placed horizontal with the smaller semi-cylinder 
uppermost. The smaller, or re-acting, piston was ten inches wide 
and the lower, or working piston thirty-six inches wide. This 
difference leaves twenty-six inches of effective width of piston, with 
its center of pressure located 10+13=23 inches from the center of the 
piston shaft. The effective piston area therefore was 26x96=2,516 
square inches, moving back and forth through an arc of ninety 
degrees with an arm or radius of twenty-three inches, the distance 
of the center of pressure from the center of the piston shaft. 

Before laughing at this contrivance as a crude effort of olden 
times it is well to investigate a little, and we will find that it pos- 
sessed peculiar merits. , The vibration of the working piston will be 
found to correspond closely to the beat of a pendulum ; and there- 
fore its swing during the first half of each vibration would be mater- 
ially assisted by the force of gravity. The arrangement with the 



steam ports underneath, facilitated the outflow of condensed water 
and prevented any dangerous accumulation in the cylinder. Centri- 
fugal force aided the outward tendency of the packing, and in the 
case of the lower piston this was further assisted by the force of 
gravity. The crank levers were attached to the piston shafts in 
nearly the same plane with the pistons, which relieved the journals 
of that shaft from irregular strains. The small angular movement 
(ninety degrees) of the main piston was also an important feature. 
A greater motion would increase the power of any given sized 
engine but would also increase the strain on all the principal bear- 


ings, as the force of the piston obviously increases in the inverse 
ratio of the sines of the angles of the piston shaft cranks, with refer- 
ence to the position of the connecting rods. A moderate increase 
of diameter would make up the loss of power due to the short arc 
through which the piston vibrates. Another advantage resulting 
from this short vibration was the possibility of fitting deep cylinder 
covers to resist the upward pressure of the steam. Finally it will be 
noticed that there are very few working parts, and the moving parts 
are fewer than in any other type of steam engine, except possibly 
the oscillating engine with the piston rod connected directly to the 




Ordinary slide valves of the locomotive type were fitted to this 
peculiar engine. Two of these engines were fitted in the Princeton, 
parallel to the crank-shaft and imparting motion by the connections 
shown in the outline sketch. 

The ship was completed and ready for sea about the first of 
January, 1844, and was exhibited as a marine wonder at various 
places along the coast. Although this was some time after the 
enactment of the law regulating the appointment of engineers in the 
naval service, Captain Stockton appointed the first ones for this ship 
as though the ship belonged to him ; indeed it is not improbable he 
felt a certain right to ownership, he being a man of wealth had spent 
much of his own money on the vessel. • When the vessel was com- 
pleted he sent the following report to the Secretary of the Navy, 
which is very interesting and gives the best description of the Prince- 
ton in existence : 

" U. S. Ship Pbincbton, 
" Philadelphia, Feb. 5th, 1844. 


"The United States Ship Princeton having received her arma- 
ment on board, and being nearly ready for sea, I have the honor to 
transmit to you the following account of her equipment, etc. : 

"The Princeton is a full rigged ship of great speed and power, 
able to perform any service that can be expected from a ship of war. 
Constructed upon the most approved principles of naval architecture, 
she is believed to be at least equal to any ship of her class with her 
sail, and she has an auxiliary power of steam and can make greater 
speed than any sea going steamer or other vessel heretofore built. 
Her engines lie snug in the bottom of the vessel, out of reach of an 
enemy's shot, and do not at all interfere with the use of the sails, 
but can at any time be made auxiliary thereto. She shows no chim- 
ney, and makes no smoke, and there is nothing in her external ap- 
pearance to indicate that she is propelled by steam. 

" The advantages of the Princeton over both sailing ships and 
steamers propelled in the usual way are great and obvious. She can 
go in and out of port at pleasure, without regard to the force or di- 
rection of the wind or tide, or the thickness of the ice. She can ride 
safely with her anchors in the most open roadstead, and may lie-to 


in the severest gale of wind with safety. She can not only save her- 
self, but will be able to tow a squadron from the dangers of a lee 
shore. Using ordinarily the power of the wind and reserving her 
fuel for emergencies, she can remain at sea the same length of time 
as other sailing ships. Making no noise, smoke, or agitation 
of the water (and if she chooses, showing no sail), she can surprise 
an enemy. She can take her own position and her own distance from 
an enemy. Her engines and water wheel being below the surface 
of the water, safe from an enemy's shot, she is in no danger of be- 
ing disabled, even if her masts should be destroyed. She will not 
be at daily expense for fuel as other steamships are. The engines 
being seldom used, will probably outlast two such ships. These ad- 
vantages make the Princeton, in my opinion, the cheapest, fastest, 
and most certain ship of war in the world. 

" The equipments of this ship are of the plainest and most sub- 
stantial kind, the furniture of the cabins being made of white pine 
boards, painted white, with mahogany chairs, table, and sideboard, 
and an American manufactured oil cloth on the floor. 

" To economize room, and that the ship may be better venti- 
lated, curtains of American manufactured linen are substituted for 
the usual and more customary and expensive wooden bulkheads, by 
which arrangement the apartments of the men and officers may in 
an instant be thrown into one, and a degree of spaciousness and com- 
fort is attained unusual in a vessel of her class. 

"The Princeton is armed with two long 225-pounder wrought 
iron guns, and twelve 42-pounder earronades, all of which may be 
used at once on either side of the ship. She can consequently throw 
a greater weight of metal at one broadside than most frigates. The 
big guns of the Princeton can be fired with an effect terrific and al- 
most incredible, and with a certainty heretofore unknown. The ex- 
traordinary effects of the shot were proved by firing at a target, 
which was made to represent a section of the two sides and deck of 
a 74-gun ship, timbered, kneed, planked and bolted in the same 
manner. This target was 560 yards from the gun. With the 
smaller charges of powder, the shot passed through these immense 
masses of timber (being fifty-seven inches thick), tearing it away and 
splintering it for several feet on each side, and covering the whole 
surface of the ground for a hundred yards square with fragments of 


wood and iron. The accuracy with which these guns throw their 
immense shot (which are three feet in circumference), may be judged 
by this: the six shots fired in succession at the same elevation struck 
the same horizontal plank more than half a mile distant. By the ap- 
plication of the various arts to the purposes of war on board the 
Princeton, it is believed that the art of gunnery for sea service has 
for the first time been reduced to something like mathematical cer- 
tainty. The distances to which these guns can throw their shot at 
every necessary angle of elevation has been ascertained by a series 
of careful experiments. The distance from the ship to any object is 
readily ascertained with an instrument on board, contrived for that 
purpose by an observation which it requires but an instant to make, 
and by inspection without calculation. By self-acting locks, the guns 
can be fired accurately at the necessary elevation, no matter what the 
motion of the ship may be. It is confidently believed'that this small 
ship will be able to battle with any vessel, however large, if she is 
not invincible against any foe. The improvements in the art of war 
adopted on board the Princeton may be productive of more important 
results than anything that has occured since the invention of gun- 
powder. The numerical force of other navies, so long boasted, may 
be set at naught. The ocean may again become neutral ground, and 
the rights of the smallest as well as the greatest nations may once 
more be respected. All of which, for the honor and defense of every 
inch of our territory, is most respectfully submitted to the honorable 
Secretary of the Navy, for the information of the President and Con- 
gress of the United States. 

' ' By your obedient and faithful servant, 

"E. F. Stockton, 

"Captain, U. S. Navy. 

On February 28, 1844, the Princeton, sailed from Washington 
on a pleasure and trial trip down the Potomac river, having on board 
President Tyler and his Cabinet and a distinguished party of civil 
and military officials, invited by Captain Stockton to witness the per- 
formance of the vessel and her machinery. The trip was a great suc- 
cess professionally and convivially, and Captain Stockton was lion- 
ized as the greatest inventor of the times, it being the general im- 
pression that the ship and all that was in her had sprung from his 


vigorous brain. On the return trip one of those irresponsible per- 
sons who are always doing something that ought not to be done and 
whose names are never known afterward, wanted to have the big 
gun known as ' ' Peacemaker, ' ' fired again ' ' just for fun, ' ' to which 
Captain Stockton dissented, as the guns had been thoroughly exer- 
cised earlier in the day; he yielded, however, upon the good-natured 
wish expressed by the Secretary of the Navy to let the guests have 
all the sport they wished, and the gun was fired. It burst, injuring 
many people, among them Stockton himself, and killing the Hon. 
Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of State; Hon. Thomas. W. Gilmer, 
Secretary of the Navy; Captain Beverly Kennon, U. S. Navy; Hon. 
Virgil Maxey of Maryland; Mr. David Gardiner, and a colored ser- 
vant. Mr. Gilmer had been Secretary of the Navy less than two 
weeks, and Mr. Upshur had been Secretary of the Navy at a period 
shortly before he received the portfolio of the Department of State. 
Mr. Gardiner was a descendant of the ' ' lords of the manor' ' of Gar- 
diner's Island, and his tragic death was the cause of an interesting 
romance; his body was taken to the White House by direction of the 
President, and in the resulting distress and sympathy President Ty- 
ler developed such an interest in Gardiner's beautiful daughter Julia 
that he afterward married her. 

When Ericsson came to the United States he brought among 
many other inventions a large wrought iron gun, designed by him- 
self and made in England. On trial this gun developed cracks 
which Ericsson remedied by an expedient now in general use in gun 
making, namely, by shrinking bands on it. Thus altered it was 
fired more than one hundred times with great success, its projectiles 
piercing a 4^-inch wrought iron target, and it was placed on board 
the Princeton, with the name of " Oregon," as one of the two heavy 
guns of that vessel ; the name ' ' Oregon ' ' was adopted because that 
word was in everybody's mouth owing to an international contro- 
versy then in progress, the British Lion being engaged in an attempt 
to place his heavy paw upon our extreme north-western territories. 
The other great gun of the Princeton — the "Peacemaker" — was 
Captain Stockton's gun, and was simply an imitation of Ericsson's, 
being regarded as an improvement over the latter, as its breach was 
a foot greater in diameter and the gun was heavier throughout, the 
quality of its metal being over looked in the effort to provide quan- 


tity; it was of the same calibre, viz, twelve inches. Its weight was 
about ten tonB and was claimed to be the largest forging then in the 
world and a great manufacturing triumph, as only a few years before 
the forges of the United States could not produce a wrought-iron 
shaft for the second Fulton. 

It is a matter of simple history that Captain Stockton allowed 
the belief to become general that he was the originator of everything 
connected with the Princeton and tacitly, if not directly, withheld 
from Ericsson the credit which was his due. In the eulogistic ac- 
count of the Princeton before quoted, the name of John Ericsson 
does not appear, although every detail mentioned with so much en- 
thusiasm as great improvements was his invention. The hull of the 
Princeton was designed by Ericsson ; the engines were of his patent, 
and so was the screw propeller; the telescopic smoke pipe and fire 
room blowers were his; the banded gun was his invention; the range 
finder was his; the automatic gun lock was his; the Princeton was 
essentially the child of Ericsson's brain. So long as the career of 
the Princeton amounted to a triumphal procession from one city to 
another, John Ericsson remained in the shadow of obscurity, but 
with the bursting of the "Peacemaker" he was remembered and 
summoned to Washington. "Captain Stockton," as Mr. Church 
very pointedly remarks, ' ' bethought himself of Ericsson. If he was 
not disposed to share the credit of success with him he was quite 
ready to give him his full measure of responsibility for disaster." 
Ericsson declined to be held responsible for an imitation gun not of 
his making and his letter in reply to the summons to proceed to 
Washington is a veritable gem of irony and independence. Stock- 
ton never forgave him and greatly injured him afterward by prevent- 
ing the payment by the Government of Ericsson's bill for his patents 
and his invaluable professional work for the two years that the ship 
was under construction. In denying Ericsson's claim for payment 
for his services Stockton referred to him as a " mechanic of some 
skill," and made the remarkable statement that he had allowed him, 
" as a particular act of favor and kindness," to superintend the con- 
struction of the Princeton's machinery. Not many months before, 
at a dinner in Princeton, celebrating the launching of the ship, Cap- 
tain Stockton had introduced Ericsson as the man for whom he had 
searched all over the world, who was capable of inventing and 
carrying out all that was necessary to make a complete ship of 



war. Ericsson experienced all the weary circumlocution of bills in 
Congress, suits in the court of claims, &c, and to the great shame 
of our country eventually died with the bills for his services on the 
Princeton still unpaid. The whole miserable story is told in Mr. 
Win. C. Church's admirable history of the life of John Ericsson, a 
book that is well worth the study of all engineers. 

The .Princeton was employed in the home squadron during the 
years 1845, '46 and '47, and was actively engaged in the Mexican 
War, her performance under sail and steam at all times being high- 
ly satisfactory, and her reliability as a steamer remarkable. The 
mean results, when under steam alone during this period, were as 

Mean steam pressure in boilers 11.75 pounds. 

Mean initial pressure in cylinders (throttle 

one-fifth open) 6.3 " 

Double vibrations of piston, per minute. . .22.58 " 
Consumption of anthracite coal per hour, 

fan blast 1,293 

Mean effective pressure throughout stroke, 9 " 

Horse-power developed by engines 191.893 

Speed of ship in knots, per hour 7. 29 

Slip of the screw 10.38 per cent. 

Sea water evaporated per hour per pound 

of coal 6.64 pounds. 

In 1847 the Princeton was supplied with new boilers of the 
same number and external dimensions as the old, but with about 
twenty per cent, more heating surface* thus improved she sailed for 
the Mediterranean station where she remained two years under the 
command of Commander Frederick Engle. Mr. Henry Hunt was 
her chief engineer the first part of this cruise, succeeded by Joshua 
Follansbee. On this cruise the performance under steam was much 
better than it had been with the original boilers and it was claimed 
that she was, considered in connection with the amount of fuel con- 
sumed, the most efficient steamer in existence. She was an object 
of interest and admiration to European engineers and her cruise in 
the Mediterranean did much to break down the prejudice of sailors 
against steamers, and of engineers against the screw and the practice 


of coupling engines direct to the shaft. At sea she was readily han- 
dled, either with steam or sail, and had no bad quality except the 
fault of pitching violently owing to her great leanness forward and 
aft. Under sail, with the propeller uncoupled, she was claimed to 
be as fast and handy as most sailing vessels, and she is said to have 
beaten some sloops of war and frigates in clawing off a lee shore in 
a heavy gale, under sail and dragging her screw. 

The old navy captains had strenuously asserted that steam could 
never be practically applied to naval warfare, and the defects in the 
first side wheel steamers and failure of Hunter's system of submerged 
propulsion added weight to their predictions. The appearance and 
successful performances of the Princeton, without any objection- 
able side-wheels and with the machinery entirely below the water 
line, left the objectors with no argument except their own sentimen- 
tal predilections in favor of sails, and for this reason the Princeton 
may truly be credited with the honor of being the germ of our steam 
navy, for after her first service there was no longer any doubt in the 
minds of sensible men that the old order of things must yield to the 
new. Besides inaugurating the era of steam men of war, the Prin- 
ceton may be credited with introducing another new factor into the 
problem of marine warfare. It has been previously mentioned that 
Ericsson's wrought-iron gun had been used to perforate an iron 
target, and, although that particular gun was removed from the ship 
after the disaster to its copy, this fact set people thinking about how 
to resist the fire of such guns. As Lieutenant Jacob W. Miller very 
aptly says in an essay read before the U. S. Naval Institute, " When 
the U. S. S. Princeton, propelled by Ericsson's screw and armed by 
Ericsson's wrought-iron gun, was launched the war between armor 
and projectiles began." 

When the Princeton returned from the Mediterranean in 1849 
she was condemned by a survey and immediately broken up at the 
Boston Navy Yard. It is asserted in Commodore Stockton's biog- 
raphy that the hasty condemnation and destruction of this ship was 
the work of certain naval captains who were jealous of the fame and 
popularity he had won in championing the cause of steam in the 
navy, and it is certain that much hard feeling was occasioned by the 
event, but this quarrel may well be passed over in silence, especially 
as its principals have long since ceased the contentions of this world. 
Two years later when Stockton was a member of the United States 


Senate he prevailed upon the Navy Department to rebuild his ship, 
and a new hull was accordingly built at the Boston navy yard, such 
of the old timbers as were fit being worked into the new structure. 
The new Princeton was a clipper-built ship, 177 feet long, 33 feet 
8 inches beam, and of 1370 tons displacement at mean draft, which 
dimensions it will be noticed correspond very closely with those of 
our present Enterprise class of corvettes. The old Ericsson semi- 
cylinder engines, being in good order, were not destroyed with the 
ship, and these were taken to Baltimore and thoroughly overhauled 
at the Vulcan Iron Works, under the supervision of Chief Engineer 
Wm. H. Shock, U. S. Navy. The only material change made in 
them was in the addition of Sickel's adjustable cut-off. Three iron 
boilers of the " Lamb and Summer " patent, previously referred to 
in connection with the Alleghany, were supplied by the Baltimore 
firm; also a four-bladed composition propeller, 16 feet in diameter, 
not unlike in general form the propellers in use fifteen years ago. 

A long delay in completing the ship occured on account of a 
controversy between the engine builders and the Navy Department 
as to whether the machinery was to be installed in Boston or Balti- 
more, but the Department, being anxious to get the ship for the Ja- 
pan expedition, finally sent her to Baltimore and the machinery was 
put in place during the summer of 1852. Eventually completed, the 
Princeton sailed from Annapolis in November, 1852, in company 
with the Mississippi, but on the voyage down Chesapeake Bay the 
boilers gave so much trouble that she was detained at Norfolk and 
the Mississippi sailed without her. The Board of Engineers named 
in Chapter IV. as having been organized to investigate the failures 
of certain vessels, reported in the case of the Princeton that the ad- 
dition of the Sickel's cut-off was injudicious and that the failure of 
the ship was attributable to the patent boilers; so far as any individ- 
ual was to blame for the failure, the report stated that Mr. Stuart, 
the former engineer-in-chief, who had recommended the use of the 
Lamb and Summer boilers was the responsible person. Commodore 
Stockton felt that his pet ship had been terribly bungled in rebuild- 
ing, possibly maliciously so, and he denounced the whole affair by 
a vigorous speech in the Senate, referring to the new Princeton as 
" an abortion in the naval service." After lying idle in Norfolk 
for a year or two, the Princeton was taken to Philadelphia and used 
as a receiving ship until October 9, 1866, when she was sold. 


"I hold every man a debtor to his profession; from the which as men of 
course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to en- 
deavour themselves by way of amends to be a help and ornament thereunto," 

Francis Bacon. 

Reorganization of the Engineer Corps — Case of Chief Engineer C. B. Moss — All 
Assistant Engineers Examined and Re-arranged According to Proficiency — 
Laws and Regulations Affecting the Engineer Corps from 1845 to 1850^- 
Resignation of Chief Engineer John Faron, Jr. 

THE act of August 31, 1842, creating the engineer corps of the 
navy, authorized the Secretary of the Navy to appoint the en- 
gineer-in- chief and the chief engineers, as well as the assistant engi- 
neers. In the original draft of this bill it was provided that the 
engineer-in-chief and chief engineers should be commissioned offi- 
cers, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, which 
provision met with approval, but disappeared at the last moment 
when the bill assumed its final form. This omission was said to be 
due to the exertions of Mr. Gilbert L. Thompson, who had arranged 
to be appointed to the new office of engineer-in-chief, and, not being 
an engineer by profession, was fearful that the Senate would not 
confirm him when nominated; so he used his political influence to 
further his interests by making the way to the desired office as free 
from legislative and legal forms and ceremonies as possible. 

After Mr. Thompson's short career as engineer- in -chief, his 
successor, Mr. Haswell, immediately undertook the task of remedy- 
ing the defect in organization occasioned by the diplomacy of his 
predecessor, his efforts being so successful that the naval appropria- 
tion bill of the following year (approved March 3, 1845) contained 
the following: — 

Sec. 7. And he it further enacted, That in lieu of the mode heretofore pro- 
vided by law, the engineer-in-chief and chief engineers of the navy shall be ap- 
pointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and that 
the President, by and with the like advice and consent, may appoint six engineers, 
to be employed in the revenue service of the United States, and the Secretary of the 
Treasury may appoint six assistant engineers, to be employed in the like service, one 
engineer and one assistant to be assigned to each steamer in the said service, if the 


same shall be deemed necessary by the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall pre- 
scribe the duties to be performed by said officers respectively; each of the said engi- 
neers shall be entitled to receive the same pay as now is, or hereafter may be, by 
law, allowed to first lieutenants in the revenue service; and that each assistant engi- 
neer shall be entitled to receive the same pay that now is, or hereafter may be, by 
law, allowed to third lieutenants In said service. 

The enactment of this law made it necessary for the names of 
the chief engineers to he sent to the Senate for confirmation for 
commissions, and this furnished the engineer-in-chief with an op- 
portunity to re-arrange them in what, according to his judgment, 
was their proper order of merit, his recommendation on the subject 
to the Secretary of the Navy, dated May 9, 1845, being approved 
and a re-arrangement accordingly made by numbering the commis- 
sions. There were then seven chief engineers ranking with each 
other according to date of appointment in the following order: 

John Faron, Jr., appointed January 13, 1840. 
Andrew Hebard, appointed February 6, 1840. 
James Thompson, appointed April 14, 1842. 
Win. P. Williamson, appointed October 20, 1842. 
Charles B. Moss, appointed May 29, 1844. 
Wm. Sewell, Jr., appointed February 11, 1845. 
W. W. W. Wood, appointed March 15, 1845. 

By Mr. Haswell's recommendation, this order of precedence 
was changed to the following, in order of number of commission: 

1. John Faron, Jr. 

2. Andrew Hebard. 

3. Wm. Sewell, Jr. 

4. W. W. W. Wood. 

5. James Thompson. 

6. Wm. P. Williamson. 

7. Charles B. Moss. 

This new arrangement was of course not agreeable to those who 
were reduced in standing, Mr. Williamson especially feeling ag- 
grieved at having Messrs. Sewell and Wood, who had just entered 
the corps as chief engineers direct from civil life, placed above him, 
and the case does appear to savor of hardship, but the judgment of 
the engineer-in- chief was allowed to stand as final, and Mr. Will- 


iamson's protests to the Department availed him nothing. Chief 
Engineer Moss also came to grief at the hands of the Department at 
the same time. He was a close friend of President Tyler, and had 
been his private secretary prior to receiving an appointment as a 
chief engineer in the navy, and after that remained in Washington 
as a member of the President's household. President Tyler's term 
of office expired March i, 1845, and the following day the Navy 
Department took possession of Mr. Moss by ordering him to Pitts- 
burgh as inspector of machinery, building in that city for the Alle- 
ghany. Two months later, when Mr. Haswell recommended the re- 
arrangement of the chief engineers, he reported to the Department 
that ' ' Mr. Moss, without the advantages of personal observation 
consequent upon the immediate management of the steam engine, 
has made himself well acquainted with its operation and possesses 
high attainments in physics and mathematics. ' ' Proteges of Presi- 
dent Tyler were not popular with the new administration, however, 
and the Navy Department detached Mr. Moss from his duty in 
Pittsburgh, placed him on furlough, and ordered him to report at a 
future date to the engineer-in-chief for an examination as to his 
qualifications for sea duty, the letter of explanation accompanying 
the order stating: 

"In consequence of the Department's want of confidence in 
your ability to assume the detailed direction and perform the prac- 
tical duties of a chief engineer attached to a sea-going steamer, and 
at the same time, entertaining the disposition to concede to you all 
proper indulgence and facilities, it has decided that for the purpose 
of giving you an opportunity practically to acquire the knowledge 
which it conceives you to be in want of, you will be detached from 
your present duties and put on furlough until the 15th of December 
next. ' ' 

About the middle of January following, Mr. Moss was ordered 
before an examining board composed of the engineer-in-chief and 
the two senior chief engineers of the navy, which resulted in his re- 
ceiving the following notification from Secretary Bancroft: 

"In consequence of the result of your examination, which has 
been communicated to you, I am authorized by the President to in- 
form you that your commision as a chief engineer in the navy of the 


United States is hereby revoked, and you are no longer a chief en- 

"A warrant as a second assistant engineer in the navy, in ac- 
cordance with the report of the Board of Engineers before which 
you were examined, will be given you upon your signifying your 
readiness to accept it." 

This letter was dated January 30, 1846, and as Mr. Moss did 
not signify his willingness to accept the proffered warrant, his con- 
nection with the service ceased on that date. The affair is narrated 
as an illustration of the danger of relying upon political influence 
for official position, and also as serving to show the uncertain tenure 
of a commission in the navy in olden times, which latter uncertainty 
was not confined to the young engineer corps, but menaced all com- 
missioned officers alike. 

Having disposed of the chief engineers, Mr. Haswell turned 
his attention to the assistants, and recommended that they all, irre- 
spective of grade or length of service in the navy, be subjected to an 
examination to establish their fitness for the service and determine 
their relative merits, which recommendation was approved by Sec- 
retary Bancroft, and an examining board convened by his order in 
the city of Washington on the 9th of July, 1845. This board con- 
sisted of Engineer-in-Chief Haswell as president and Chief Engi- 
neers John Faron, Jr., and Wm. W. W. Wood as members, and 
before it all the assistant engineers who were within summoning dis- 
tance were ordered to appear. 

The proceedings of the examining board partook largely of 
" star chamber " methods, as may be seen from the following letter 
of instructions issued to the board by the chief of the Bureau of 
Construction, Equipment and Repairs, who represented the Secre- 
tary of the Navy for the time, and to which bureau the engineering 
branch was attached as a sub-department or bureau: 

" Messrs. C. H. Haswell, 1 

John Faron, J. Engineers. 

W. W. W. Wood, j 


' ' The board will take particular care to ascertain the qualifica- 
tions of the candidates for all the duties that may be required of 


them, as assistant engineers, and satisfy themselves of their moral, 
as well as professional fitness for the public service. 

' ' Having ascertained the merits of the candidates as above, 
the board will proceed to class them as first, second and third assist- 
ants — taking into view professional and moral fitness and other cir- 
cumstances which may give claim to preference. 

"Having classed the candidates as above, the board will ar- 
range them in their several classes according to merit. 

' ' The appointments now held by assistant engineers are to be 
considered as temporary, and not giving claim to precedence, ex- 
cept in cases when candidates may be thought to be equal in merit, 
then preference will be given to the senior appointment. 

"The board will admit but one candidate for examination at a 
time, the examination is to be considered private and confidential, 
and it will impress upon the mind of each candidate, and enjoin it on 
him, that he is not to disclose to any one the course of examination, 
the questions asked him, or anything that may occur in the session 
of the board. 

' ' The decisions at which the board may arrive are to be com- 
municated to no one ; but are, when the whole examination is com- 
pleted, to be submitted to the Secretary of the Navy, for such action 
as he may deem proper. 

" By order of the Secretary of the Navy. 

" W. B. Shubeick, 
' ' for Com. Morris, 
"Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repairs, July 8, 1845." 

At that time the different grades of assistant engineers were 
composed of the following members, arranged in order of seniority 
according to length of service: 




1. Hiram Sanford, 

2. William Scott, 

3. James Cochrane, 

4. Henry Hunt, 

5. D. B. Martin, 

6. John Alexander, 

7. James Atkinson, 

8. Thomas Copeland, 

9. Levi Griffin, 

10. B. F. Isherwood, 

11. Alexander Birkbeck. 





A. S. Palmer, 
J. S. Rutherford, 
J. K. Mathews, 
Gilbert Sherwood, 
N. C. Davis, 
Daniel Murphy, 
J. M. Middleton, 
William Luce, 
Levi T. Spencer, 
J. F. Dryburgh. 


Smith Thompson, 
Josbua Follansbee, 
Wm. F. Mercier, 
John Gallagher, 
William Taggart, 
Samuel Archbold, 
John Serro, 
Thomas Dickson. 
Theodore Zeller, 
M. M. Thompson, 
JameB W. King, 
Robert Danby, 
William H. Shock, 
Charles Coleman. 

After examining all the available assistant engineers the result 
of the examination was reported as follows: 

"Office of Enginekb Cobps, U. S. N., 
" Jnly 28th, 1845. 


"In behalf of the Board for the examination of Assistant 
Engineers that was convened on the 9th instant, I have to report: 

"That there were twenty-seven Assistants examined, one of 
whom was rejected. 

' ' The accompanying paper contains a list of the names of those 
that were passed, arranged in the several grades and numbered in 
the order in which they are recommended to be placed. 

"In consideration of this being the first occasion since the 
organization of the Engineer Corps that duty of this nature has been 
performed, and as many changes in the different grades are recom- 
mended to be made, I deem it proper to recur to the irregular 
manner in which the present tenure of appointments of those ex- 
amined originated. 

"Thus from 1837 to 1842 there did not exist the grade of 
Third Assistant, and not until 1842 was there an examination prior 
to admission into the corps, and even up to the present time there 
has not been an appointment under any defined regulations or re- 

"With these facts in view it is fair to infer that errors of 



position could not have been avoided; added to which, observation, 
ambition, and a difference in capacity, have secured to some (since 
their appointments in the service) that advantage which is so readily 
obtained when their attendant results are contrasted with indiffer- 
ence and a less regard to the exactions of advancement. 

" The want of a working model of a condensing engine for the 
purposes of illustration and reference was much felt, and in future 
examinations of candidates for admission into the corps much incon- 
venience will be experienced without the use of one. I recommend 
that one be constructed at the navy yard in Washington — the cost of 
which should not exceed $300. 

"Mr. Alexander Birkbeck, Jr. , is recommended as worthy of an 
examination for promotion to a Chief Engineer whenever the De- 
partment may see fit to add to the number of that grade. First 
Assistant Thomas Copeland from physical infirmity, added to the 
want of professional experience as a marine engineer, is considered 
unfit to discharge the duties pertaining to an Assistant Engineer in 
the Naval Service. 

' I am, very respectfully, 

' ' Your obedient servant, 

"Chas. JEL Haswell. " 

The paper referred to in the above report as giving the names 
of the assistant engineers, re -arranged in the order of merit recom- 
mended by the examining board, shows that the following order, 
which was officially approved, was recommended: 





Alexander Birkbeck, Jr 

Joshua Follansbee, 

John M. Middleton, 


Henry Hunt, 

John Alexander, 

Wm. F. Mercier, 


Daniel B. Martin, 

James Atkinson, 

William Taggart, 


Hiram Sanford. 

Levi Griffin, 

William Luce, 


James Cochrane, 

Levi T. Spencer, 
Albert S. Palmer, 

James W. King, 


James K. Dryburgh, 
Theodore Zeller, 


Jesse S. Rutherford, 


Samuel Archbold, 

Kobert Danby, 


Nay lor 0. Davis, 

William H. Shock, 


Daniel Murphy, 

John Serro, 


M. M. Thompson. 


Of the eight assistants not examined in July,' two, Second As- 
sistant Gilbert Sherwood and Third Assistant Smith Thompson, de- 
clined the examination and resigned. The other six, the vessels to 
which they were attached having returned to the United States, were 
ordered before the board in December and January following, and 
examined, Chief Engineer Andrew Hebard being then one of the 
examiners in place of Mr. Wood, who had been sent to New Orleans 
to superintend a general overhauling of the machinery of the 
General Harney. Those examined were first assistants Wm. Scott 
and B. F. Isherwood; second assistant John K. Mathews, and third 
assistants John Gallagher, Thomas Dickson, and Charles Coleman. 
The result of the examination was that Messrs. Scott and Isherwood 
were reduced to second assistants; Mr. Mathews advanced to the 
head of the second assistants list; Mr. Gallagher promoted to 
second assistant, and Messrs. Dickson and Coleman placed on the 
list of third assistants next after Wm. H. Shock and M. M. Thomp- 
son respectively. 

This whole proceeding was most radical and arbitrary, and occa- 
sioned much heart-burning among those unfortunates who lost grade 
or numbers in the final arrangement; nevertheless, it was demanded 
by the lack of homogeneity in the corps which had resulted from the 
irregular manner in which the first engineers had been appointed, 
and the advantages of establishing professional competency as a 
requisite for membership in the corps, and of starting fair, even 
though a trifle late, with the engineering personnel graded according 
to merit, much more than offset any grievances of individuals re- 
sulting from the rearrangement. Of high professional ability and 
broad general education himself, Mr. Haswell felt that the require- 
ment of similar ability from all the members of his corps was the 
only proper method of elevating its standard, and the imposition of 
this arbitrary examination upon the junior engineers was the first 
step in that direction. That the step was of great subsequent bene- 
fit to the corps is manifest, and its inception indicates a degree of 
corps pride and far-sightedness on the part of the engineer-in-chief 
to be admired and commended more than any other of his numerous 
acts which operated to the lasting benefit of his corps. Moral 
courage of a high order was necessary to the carrying out of this 
reform, for it could be of no possible personal benefit to its pro- 


The first engineer in the United States Navy : appointed Chief 

Engineer July 12, 1836. Engineer-in-chief of the Navy 

from October 3, 1844, until December 1, 1850. 


jector, and by its character was bound to make enemies for him 
within his own corps, where friends were most needed; enemies 
who treasured up their wrongs, real or imaginary, and patiently 
waited for the time, which eventually came, when they could safely 
combine to seek their revenge. 

Mr. Haswell's scheme for the reformation and reorganization 
of his corps was further perfected this same year by the promulga- 
tion of a set of regulations governing the admission and promotion 
of members of the engineer corps. This order was dated July 8, 
1845, and established limits of age for candidates, made the per- 
formance of a certain amount of sea service in each grade a re- 
quirement for promotion, and fixed a scale of mental requirements 
much in advance of what had been previously demanded. The 
initial examination for admission as a third assistant engineer was 
elementary compared with modern requirements, but the subsequent 
advances in grade were guarded by examinations that increased in 
difficulty in what may be termed geometrical progression, until the 
candidate for promotion to the list of chief engineers was required 
to pass a very exacting ordeal, calculated to establish the possession 
of much scientific and mechanical ability. 

Chief engineers of excellent professional and general informa- 
tion were habitually selected for the duty of examiners, and it was 
an established rule that a failure to pass the required examination 
meant an end to the naval career of the delinquent. This furnished 
a strong incentive to the young engineers to fit themselves for ad- 
vancement, and almost immediately after the reorganization of the 
corps a much keener incentive to study and self improvement ap- 
peared in the development of an intense spirit of corps pride which 
made the engineers quick to recognize their own short- comings and 
to strive to overcome them. Opposition from within the service to 
the new branch was the chief cause for the early inception of this 
esprit de corps, and, although disagreeable to those who had to re- 
sist it, should now be regarded as a blessing in disguise to the 
engineers, for it prompted all but the laggards not only to overcome 
the deficiencies charged against them, but to outstrip their competit- 
ors in the pursuit of knowledge. 

The Naval Academy was opened the same year that the sys- 
tematic reorganization of the engineer corps was effected, and as 


soon as the two systems were well in operation the young men of the 
two branches of the service fell into an intellectual rivalry, which 
was good for both classes, and especially for the engineers. The 
result of this feeling was frankly confessed by a distinguished naval 
captain some years ago, who, in a discussion regarding naval educa- 
tion, remarked that under the old system a newly graduated mid- 
shipman was much better informed on general subjects than was a 
newly appointed third assistant engineer, but at the end of the first 
cruise the young engineer would generally be found to be much the 
better informed man of the two. 

Immediately after being appointed engineer-in-chief, Mr. Has- 
well prepared a list of instructions for the government of the 
engineer department of vessels of war, which instructions were 
issued by the Secretary of the Navy in the form of a general order 
to commanding officers under date of February 26, 1845. This 
order defined in general, the duties and responsibilities of engineers 
afloat, precautions to be observed in the care and preservation of 
machinery, etc., and were so well considered and prepared that 
some of /the sections still remain in the steam instructions without 
modification, except in matters of detail demanded by the changes 
in engineering practice. 

August 1, 1847, the Navy Department issued a circular order 
regarding the enlistment of firemen and coal heavers, which directed 
that no fireman should be shipped in the future until he had passed 
a satisfactory examination before a board of engineers and demon- 
strated his ability to manage fires properly with different kinds of 
fuel, and to use skillfully smiths' tools in the repair of boilers and 
machinery. Two classes of firemen were established by the order, 
and a regular system of promotion from coal heaver to the two 
grades of firemen was directed. First class firemen were declared 
eligible for advancement to the warrant rank of third assistant engi- 
neer if they could qualify before the examining board. 

The next year Congress, by an Act approved August 11, 1848, 
extended the benefits of existing laws, respecting naval pensions, 
to the engineer corps and to enlisted men of the engineers' force, 
the wording of the act being as follows: 

"Sec. 2.— That engineers, firemen, and coal heavers in the navy shall be 
entitled to pensions in the same manner as officers, seamen, and marines, and 
the widows of engineers, firtoen and coal heavers in the same manner as the 


widows of officers, seamen, and marines : Provided, That the pension of a chief 
engineer shall he the same as that of a lieutenant in the navy, and the pension 
of the widow of a chief engineer shall be the same as that of the widow of a 
lieutenant in the navy; the pension of a first assistant engineer shall be the same 
as that of a lieutenant of marines, and the pension of the widow of a first as- 
sistant engineer shall be the same as that of the widow of a lieutenant of marines; 
the pension of a second or a third assistant engineer the same as that of a forward 
officer, and the pension of the widow of a second or third assistant engineer the 
same as that of the widow of a forward officer." 

A new schedule of pay for engineer officers, by which an in- 
crease for all grades was effected, was created by the following sec- 
tion from the naval appropriation bill approved March 3, 1849: 

Sec. 6. And be itfwrfher enacted, That the engineers in the navy shall 
hereafter receive the following pay, viz: 

Chief engineers on duty first five years 81,500 

Chief engineers on duty after five years 2,000 

Chief engineers on leave firBt five years 1.200 

Chief engineers on leave after five years 1,400 

First assistant engineers on duty 1,000 

First assistant engineers on leave 850 

Second assistant engineers on duty 800 

Second assistant engineers on leave 600 

Third assistant engineers on duty..,, 600 

Third assistant engineers on leave 400 

The engineer corps experienced a decided loss at this period by 
the resignation of the senior chief engineer in the service, Mr. John 
Faron, Jr., who tendered his resignation in April, 1848, in order to 
accept the position of {Superintending Engineer of the newly estab- 
lished Collins line of transatlantic mail steamers. Mr. Faron, it 
will be remembered, was the first assistant engineer appointed to the 
Fulton in 1837, and became a chief engineer in January, 1840. He 
was a thoroughly capable and efficient marine engineer, and was 
prominently identified with the designing, building and management 
of the early naval steamers, as well as being a prominent factor as 
a member of the examining board, in the work of reorganizing the 
engineer corps. His name was continued on the navy list by the 
admission into the corps of a third assistant engineer named John 
Faron, a few months after his resignation. 


" I believe that if the question had been put to Congress before the march 
of the armies and their actual conflict, not ten Votes could have been obtained in 
either house for the war with Moxicb under the existing state of things."— 

The War With Mexico — Naval Operations in California — Important Service of 
Surgeon Wm. Maxwell Wood— Blockade of the Gulf Coast — Commodore 
Perry and the Mississippi — Valuable Professional Service of Engineer-in- 
Chief Haswell — Bombardment of Vera Cruz — "Alvarado Hunter" — Steam- 
ers Bought for Temporary Service — Naval Engineers Engaged in the Mexi- 
can War— Results of the War. 

THIS volume being devoted to the deeds of naval men, it is 
hardly within its province to deal with the causes, or pretexts, 
which brought about the war with Mexico. Without referring to the 
political and sectional interests involved, it will be sufficient to say in 
regard to the direct cause of the war that the Mexican State of 
Texas, after having achieved its independence after a short but 
exceptionally cruel war, and after having enjoyed the dignity of a 
sovereign republic for ten years, asked for admission into the North 
American Union, and was admitted late in 1845, bringing with her 
a bitter quarrel with her parent country as to the exact boundary line 
between them, and a vast assortment of fierce and bloody border 
feuds handed down from the days of the Alamo, Goliad and San 
Jacinto. The new administration, that of President Polk, resolved 
to defend by force if necessary the position taken by the Texans in 
regard to their boundary dispute, and within a few months collisions 
of troops in the disputed territory gave the American Congress the 
opportunity of declaring, May 11, 1846, that "By the acts of the 
Eepublic of Mexico, a state of war exists between the United States 
and that Republic. ' ' 

Mexico, being miserably poor, distracted, misgoverned, and 
revolutionary, had no national navy, and the navy of the United 
States therefore was restricted to a rather limited share in the opera- 
tions of the war, being forced to unromantic blockading and trans- 
port duties along the coasts, and denied the glory of battles at sea 

THE gfEAM VtAYt OF fHE tf arrfED SPATES. & 

for lack of an enemy to meet on that element. Nevertheless, BOme 
of the ads of the naval force were productive of most important 
and lasting results in the prosecution of the -war, while the main- 
tenance of a blockade, imperfect as it was from being held by a fleet 
mainly composed 01 sailing ships on coasts famous" for sudden 
storms, contributed greatly to hapten the end of hostilities : 
otherwise the war might have been prolonged by the sending of war 
material and supplies into Mexico by other nations had her ports 
been left unguarded. 

One of the very first events of the war was of the greatest im- 
portance, and in all human probability its result was to give to the 
United States instead of Great Britain possession for all time of 
the vast region then composing the Mexican territory, or province, 
of California. The Mexican national debt was largely held by Brit- 
ish capitalists, and fearing they would never realize on their invest- 
ments because of the constant political turmoil Of the feeble young 
republic, had appealed to their own government for assistance, which 
was readily attempted, as the foreign policy of England very proper- 
ly includes the protection of the pockets of her subjects as well as 
their personal safety. Through the regular diplomatic channels 
propositions were made to Mexico to mortgage California and allow 
its occupation by England until the bonds were paid: a most astute 
scheme, and one that would have resulted in due time in the British 
government assuming the payment of the debt to its subjects and 
becoming the owner in fee simple of the territory held as security. 
While negotiations to this end were pending, the prospect of war 
between the United States and Mexico became threatening, and a 
subject of great interest to the British admiral in the Pacific, who is 
believed to have had instructions to seize upon California at the first 
news of hostilities, and thus insure his countrymen against financial 

In the spring of 1846 the American Pacific squadron, composed 
of sailing vessels, was lying at Mazatlan on the west coast of Mexico, 
Commodore John D. Sloat in the frigate Savannah being in com- 
mand. The British admiral, Seymour, in the Oollvngwood, was also 
there, both watching each other and waiting eagerly for news, which 
came slowly in those days, without railways and telegraphs. It 
often happens that important events in the history of nations result 


from the acts of individuals not prominently connected with them, 
or from obscure circumstances of which the public is not cognizant, 
and one these events was now to come about. Surgeon Wm. Max- 
well Wood, of the Savannah, having been relieved by another sur- 
geon, left Mazatlan April 30 on his way home, his plan being to 
cross Mexico and take a steamer for the United States before war 
began, if a war was really to result. He was commissioned by 
Commodore Sloat to convey important information verbally to the 
Secretary of the Navy, the condition of the country being such that 
it was not deemed safe to trnst his despatches or letters to be carried 
across the country. Dr. Wood spoke Spanish fluently, and when 
well started on his journey, at Guadalajara, overheard a conversa- 
tion not intended for his ears from which he learned that hostilities 
had actually occurred on the Eio Grande. He was a most phleg- 
matic man, and consequently was able to absorb the startling intelli- 
gence without any outward show of interest; furthermore, his man- 
ner and personal appearance were those of a prosperous Englishman, 
in which character he was traveling, so he was comparatively free 
from suspicion. 

At the earliest possible moment Surgeon Wood wrote out a de- 
tailed account of what he had heard, and despatched it by messen- 
ger to Commodore Sloat at Mazatlan, this act involving great per- 
sonal risk, for had the despatch been intercepted its author would 
certainly have been hunted down and treated as a spy. By good 
luck more than anything else the letter reached Commodore Sloat 
safely, and that officer was not slow to appreciate the importance of 
the news and the exigency of the occasion. He at once sent two of 
his vessels — the Cycme and Levant, names that had before been his- 
torically associated — to the northward, and followed soon after in 
the Savannah. Within a few days the British admiral learned of 
the beginning of the war, and, surmising the mission of the Ameri- 
can squadron, sailed at once on the same errand; but he was too 
late. On the 7th of July the American vessels took possession of 
Monterey, the chief city of Upper California, and of San Francisco, 
the best harbor, and that territory has ever since remained a part of 
the American Kepublic, thanks in the first instance to Surgeon 
Wood for his quick perception of his duty in the emergency in which 
he was accidentally placed, and in the second to Commodore Sloat 


for assuming the responsibility of seizing upon a vast territory -with- 
out orders and without any assurance that his action would be up- 
held, or that a force sufficient to hold it -would be supplied. 

That Commodore Sloat acted wholly on his own judgment is 
proved by the fact that orders from Washington directing him to 
take possession of San Francisco Bay in the event of war were re- 
ceived by him long after the act had actually been performed. The 
importance of Surgeon Wood's part in the affair is testified to by 
Commodore Sloat, who, writing him some years later in relation to 
the event, said : ' ' The information you furnished me at Mazatlan 
from Guadalajara (at the risk of your life) was the only reliable in- 
formation I received of that event, and which induced me to pro- 
ceed immediately to California, and upon my own responsibility to 
take posession of that country, which I did on the 7th of July, 
1846." Had California become a British instead of American pos- 
session, the subsequent influence upon the progress of the United 
States, especially in the ultimate settlement of differences between 
the free and the slave states, is a subject quite beyond the bounds 
of any possible historical speculation. 

Commodore Sloat was succeeded in command of the Pacific 
squadron by Commodore Stockton (of Princeton fame,) who, in co- 
operation with a small army under General Kearney, quelled an 
insurrection in the captured province and held it in hand until by 
the terms of the treaty of peace it became definitely a possession of 
the United States. His vessels also maintained as good a blockade 
of the ports on the western coast of Mexico as the nature of their 
motive power permitted. The action of Commodore Sloat in seizing 
upon the California coast was by all odds the most far-reaching move 
of the war, and the credit for it rests entirely with the navy. 

An account of naval operations on the gulf coast of Mexico is 
largely a history of Captain M. C. Perry and his favorite war-vessel 
— the steamer Mississippi. Within a few weeks after the beginning 
of hostilities on the Rio Grande a reasonably efficient blockade of 
the Mexican ports was established, although the stormy character of 
that coast made blockading a rather difficult matter with the force 
at hand. This squadron, under the command of Commodore 
Connor, consisted of the steamers Mississippi and Princeton, tne 
frigates Raritcm and Potomac, several sloops-of-war, among wli«i& 


were the ill-fated Albany and Gwnherland, and a number of schoon- 
ers, bomb-ketches and small steamers, the latter being mentioned 
more particularly hereafter. The principal military operation under- 
taken by Commodore Connor was an expedition against Alvarado in 
October, but owing to the grounding of a schooner on the bar and 
signs of an approaching "norther," signal was made to return to 
the station off Vera Cruz, the abandonment of the attack greatly 
displeasing the subordinate officers and eventually proving some- 
thing of a reflection upon Commodore Connor. 

In August, Captain Perry was ordered to take two small steam- 
ers to Mexico and upon his arrival to relieve Captain Fitzhugh in 
command of the Mississippi. The steamers were the Vixen and 
Spitfire, small side-wheel vessels of about 240 tons burden, fitted 
with horizontal half-beam engines. They were twin vessels and 
had been built by Brown & Bell of New York for the Mexican 
government, but being unfinished at the time the war began they 
were bought by the United States from the builders for about $50,000 
each. The Spitfire was sold at the close of the war and was lost on 
her first voyage as a commercial vessel ; the Vixen was continued 
in the navy until 1855, when she was sold. Captain Perry 
arrived on the station with these steamers in September, after which 
there was a practical division of the squadron, Commodore Connor, 
who does not seem to have had much faith in steamers as war 
vessels, allowing Perry to control the steamers while he directed the 
operations of the sailing vessels, although he of course, as the sen- 
ior, officially commanded the whole squadron. 

At the time of Commodore Connor's demonstration against 
Alvarado, Perry with the Mississippi, Vixen, and some gun-schoon- 
ers, reinforced by two hundred marines from the sailing ships, went 
to attack Tobasco up the river of the same name. Frontera, at the 
mouth of the river, was taken without resistance on October 23, a 
river steamer named Petrita which was afterward of great use being 
taken at this time. On the 26th Tobasco was captured after a 
smart fight, but the enemy, after having surrendered, attacked the 
naval force unexpectedly and this act obliged Perry to bombard the 
town, doing it a great deal of damage and completely subduing the 
war spirit of the Mexicans, the Vixen taking a prominent part in the 
cannonading. Not having a force with which to occupy the town, 


IPerry took away the small vessels he had captured and returned to 
rejoin the fleet. One of the vessels taken at Tobasco was a steamer 
named the Cka/mpion, formerly employed on the James River in 
Virginia, which as a despatch boat became afterward most useful to 
the American squadron. Although the captured city was not 
occupied, the expedition against it was not without value, for it 
infused new life into the men who were growing discontented under 
the monotony of looking at the enemy's shores from a distance. 

About the middle of November both Connor and Perry went to 
attack Tampico, about two hundred miles north of "Vera Cruz, and 
gained possession of that place without firing a shot, the appearance 
of the squadron off the bar being the signal for surrender. It being 
desirable for military reasons to retain this place, Perry with his 
ever-ready Mississippi was sent to Matamoras near the mouth of the 
Bio Grande to oommunicate with the army authorities and ask that 
troops be sent. After doing this he went on his own responsibility 
to New Orleans, where he obtained from the governor of Louisiana 
a battery of field guns and a quantity of shovels, picks, wheel- 
barrows, etc. , much needed for entrenching purposes. Keturning, 
lie arrived at Tampico after just one week's absence, his quick trip 
amazing the old seamen in the fleet who were almost persuaded into 
the belief that a steamer might after all be good for something. 

By the end of the year constant service under steam began to 
tell on the Mississippi, repairs being so urgently needed that early 
an January, 1847, Perry proceeded in her to Norfolk, where he 
turned her over to the navy yard authorities, going himself to Wash- 
ington to consult with the Navy Department officials relative to the 
conduct of the war. A board of survey reported that it would 
require six weeks to fit the Mississippi for service, which was very 
discouraging news to Perry who felt that important events were 
impending in Mexico and who had his own reasons for wishing to 
be present during their occurrence. In this emergency he fell back 
on his old friend Haswell, the engineer-in-chief, knowing that if 
anyone could help him out Haswell was the man. The engineer-in- 
chief went to Norfolk and, after a critical examination of the ship, 
declared that she could be made ready in two weeks by working 
night and day, and this feat was actually accomplished under his 
personal direction. "We may safely add that, by his energy, and 


ability in getting the Mississippi ready at this time, Mr. Has- 
well saved the government many thousands of dollars and contri- 
buted largely to the triumphs of a quick war which brought early 
peace." * 

Commodore Perry's familiarity with steam vessels was utilized 
during his enforced stay in the United States at this time by putting 
him in charge of the fitting out of a flotilla of lightdraft vessels for 
service in Mexico. These were the steamers Seowrge and Scorpion, 
and a number of bomb-ketches with imported volcanic names — 
Vesuvius, Stromboli, and the like — intended to be towed by the 
steamers. The Seowrge was a small vessel of 230 tons burden, pur- 
chased in New York for $44,825 ; she was fitted with two of the 
Loper flat-bladed propellers, and was sold at New Orleans at the 
close of the war. The Scorpion was a paddle-wheel steamer of 340 
tons burden, bought in New York for $80,505, and sold in 1848 
for $14,500. Although not a part of this flotilla, two other steam- 
ers added to the naval establishment for Mexican War service may 
properly be mentioned here. These were the Iris, a paddle-wheel 
vessel of 388 tons burden, fitted with a steeple engine, bought in 
New York in 1847 for $35,991 and sold in Norfolk in 1849 for 
about one-fourth that amount, and the Polk, a revenue cutter very 
similar to the Scorpion ; the Polk was transferred to the Navy 
Department is 1846, but was found unseaworthy and defective in 
machinery, having broken down on an attempted voyage to the 
Gulf, in consequence of which she was returned to the Treasury 

Perry returned to Vera Cruz with the Mississippi early in 
March, carrying with him orders to relieve Commodore Connor and 
take command of the American fleet, which he did March 21, 1847, 
and immediately thereafter a vigorous and aggressive policy was in- 
augurated. General Winfield Scott's army had already landed and 
begun the siege of Vera Craz, but found itself without ordnance 
heavy enough to make much impression upon the city walls. To 
General Scott's request for the loan of heavy guns from the fleet, 
Perry refused, unless his own men might go with their guns, a con- 
dition that Scott first declined, but when he fully realized that his 

1 William E. Griffls ; "Biography of Matthew Calbraith Perry ; " p. 211. 


own batteries could not breach the walls he accepted it, and a heavy 
battery of six guns with ship's mounts and picked crews was at once 
landed and laboriously dragged through the sand in the night-time 
Borne three miles to the spot where it was to be located for most 
effective use. The earthwork defenses for this battery were laid 
out by an engineer of General Scott's staff — Captain EobertE. Lee. 
It may be interesting to mention that in the army before Vera Cruz 
at this time, gaining experience for a far greater war, were the fol- 
lowing named young officers: First Lieutenants James Longstreet, 
P. G. T. Beauregard, John Sedgwick, and Earl Van Dorn, and 
Second Lieutenants U. S. Grant, George B. McClellan, Fitz John 
Porter, W". S. Hancock, and Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson. 

After the installation of the naval battery the cannonading be- 
came more deadly and furious, resulting in the surrender four days 
later of the beleagured city. The details of this exploit are not es- 
pecially pleasant for the American historian to dwell upon. The 
Mexican general, Morales, had declined General Scott's summons 
to surrender and had not availed himself of the privilege offered to 
remove the inhabitants of the city before the bombardment began. 
The fire of the heavy naval guns was directed successfully to the 
breaching of the wall, but the army guns and mortars kept up an 
incessant storm of shot, shell and bombs, rained over the walls into 
the city. Ages ago Cicero established the maxim that "Laws are 
silent in war," and the truth of this was well illustrated by the 
tragedy of Vera Cruz. Whole families were destroyed in the ruins 
of their shattered homes; women and children praying in an agony 
of fear before the altars of their churches were torn and mangled 
by bombs and shells crushing through the roofs; even the sepul- 
chres of the dead were torn to pieces and the corpses scattered about 
the streets. The damage done to combatants was small compared 
with the horrors inflicted upon the wretched populace. 

An exhibition of bravado in the fleet was the only touch of 
comedy connected with the bombardment of Vera Cruz. The 
famous stone castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, built by the Spaniards in 
the 16th century at a cost of forty million dollars, stands in the 
harbor about a mile in front of the city, and its fire soon proved a 
serious annoyance to some of the investing batteries, the exact range 
of which had been ascertained by repeated firing. To divert this 


fire, Perry ordered Commander Tatnall in the steamer Spitfire to 
approach and open fire on the castle. Tatnall, always disputatious, 
asked for specific directions as to what point he should attack, to 
which ' ' Ursa Major, ' ' as Perry was known behind his back, replied 
not too gently, "Where you can do the most execution, sir!" 
With this flea in his ear Tatnall proceeded with the Spitfire, in 
company with the Yi/ssen, Commander Joshua R. Sands, to within a 
stone's throw of the castle and opened furiously against its massive 
walls. This close proximity probably saved the two little steamers, 
for they were untouched, although the men on board were thoroughly 
drenched with the water splashed over them by the storm of 
cannon balls. The spectacle was exciting to the crews of the 
on-looking ships, and ludicrous as well on account of its futility. 
Perry, both amused and provoked at the exhibition of temper on 
the part of his subordinate, made signal for the steamers to with- 
draw, but Tatnall failed to see any signals, assuring the officer who 
reported them that he was mistaken and was looking the wrong way. 
It finally became necessary to endanger a boat's crew by sending it 
to call him back, Mr. Wm. H. Shock, who was the engineer in 
charge of the machinery of the Spitfire on this occasion, has stated 
in a magazine article that when the vessels went out of action he 
heard Tatnall say in tones of regret, "Not a man wounded or 

After the fall of Vera Cruz, a combined army and naval expe- 
dition was planned against Alvarado, the place that had previously 
been proceeded against without results by Commodore Connor. The 
chief object in gaining this town was to supply Scott's army with 
animals for transportation in his projected invasion of Mexico, 
horses being abundant in the Alvarado neighborhood. General 
Quitman with a considerable force of artillery, cavalry and infan- 
try, started overland, while Perry organized an expedition with 
small steamers manned by picked men from the fleet to proceed 
against the place by water. Lieutenant Charles GL Hunter in the 
SGourge was directed to blockade the threatened town and report 
the movements of the enemy to Captain Breese of the sloop-of-war 
Albany. This young officer, observing signs of the enemf aban- 
doning the town, landed some men and took possession of it, a very 
presumptuous act when a general and a commodore had designs 


upon the position and the honor of capturing it. Hunter was 
promptly arrested by order of Commodore Perry, tried by court- 
martial for disobedience of orders, and sent home in disgrace. In 
the United States he was given many dinners and receptions, and as 
"Alvarado Hunter" was the hero of the hour, while Perry was 
made the target for a multitude of newspaper attacks. All of which 
was natural enough on the part of the public, which saw nothing in 
the affair except the capture of a town without regard for the rank 
of the captor. As a matter of fact, by exceeding his authority 
Hunter completely defeated the real object of the expedition; his 
act forewarned the Mexicans and gave them ample time to remove 
with their horses and portable property before the army forces had 
hemmed them in. 

The next naval operation of consequence in this war was Perry's 
capture in June of the city of Tobasco, after severe fighting. This 
is an important event in our naval history, as it is the first occasion 
on which a large force of blue-jackets was regularly organized into a 
naval brigade for prolonged military operations on shore, which was 
done under the personal direction and command of Commodore 
Perry. The necessity for this proceeding was brought about by 
the circumstance that the marines of the fleet had been formed into 
a regiment and sent with Scott's army on the march to the city of 
Mexico. The year before, Commodore Stockton had used his sailors 
to some extent for guard and garrison duty in California, but the 
credit for the first real naval brigade is given to Perry by the his- 
torians of our navy. The small steamers of the fleet were invalu- 
able in the capture of Tobasco; in fact, without them the expedition 
would hardly have been practicable. Commodore Perry so fully 
appreciated the value of this type of vessel that he repeatedly asked 
for more light-draft steamers from home, and eventually so pro- 
voked the conservative old officers about the Navy Department that 
he got a stiff reprimand from the Secretary of the Navy for his per- 
sistence in this regard. 

To First Assistant Engineer George Sewall is due credit for 
having repaired in a most ingenious manner without any convenient 
appliances the two steamers Vixen and Spitfire, which had become 
unseaworthy and unfit for use owing to leaky Kingston valve con- 
nections, thus giving to the Government two steamers for war 


Yellow fever broke out in July on the Mississippi, and that in- 
valuable ship eventually had to be sent off the station, going to 
Pensacola with about two hundred invalids on board. A short time 
before the appearance of this pestilence a fire from spontaneous 
combustion had gained such headway in the Mississippi's coal 
bunkers that it was only extinguished by flooding the bunkers, and 
it was believed that the moisture remaining in the nooks and corners 
of the ship after this accident gave a foothold for the disease. Two 
of the Mississippi's engineers — First Assistant Charles A. Mapes, 
and Third Assistant Emerson G. Covel — died on board their ship 
of this epidemic and were buried in the soil of Mexico. 

General Scott entered the city of Mexico on the 17th of Sep- 
tember, 1847, and that practically ended the war, although the 
naval force continued the blockade of the coast until the treaty of 
peace was signed the following February. Then the vessels were 
gradually withdrawn, the larger ones to other stations and the small 
purchased steamers were sold for what they would bring. The most 
beneficial lesson to the navy derived from this war was that steamers 
were vastly superior to sailing vessels for war purposes, and the 
prejudice against the new motor were so broken down that naval 
opposition to the policy of building war steamers was ma- 
terially diminished thereafter, although not wholly extinguished. 
The demonstrated value of the small steamers for river and harbor 
operations had quite as much to do with bringing about this change 
of sentiment as had the general utility exhibited by the Princeton 
and Mississippi. 

With the return of peace, the steam navy was augmented by the 
transfer from the War Department of two steamers which had been 
used for troop-ships. The larger of these was the Massachusetts, a 
full-rigged ship of 750 tons burden with auxiliary steam power, 
which had been bought in 1847 for $80,000. This ship had been 
the pioneer in a line of auxiliary steam packets employed in the New 
York and Liverpool trade, and was fitted with two small engines of 
Ericsson's design, driving an Ericsson screw only 9£ feet in 
diameter, the screw being attached to the shaft by a coupling that 
could be disengaged and the screw hoisted on deck in a few min- 
utes. The propeller shaft passed out of the stern at the side of the 
stern post, to which was bolted the stern bearing of the shaft, the 


latter projecting far enough to allow the screw to operate abaft the 
rudder. The rudder had a slot, or " shark's mouth " cut in it to 
prevent its striking the projecting shaft when put hard over. Both 
the stern bearing attached to the post and the cut in the rudder were 
features patented by John Ericsson. The Massachusetts was some 
years afterward converted into a bark-rigged sailing vessel, and 
under the name of FarraUones remained in the naval service until 
after the Civil War, when she was sold. 

The other transferred transport was the auxiliary steam bark 
Edith, of 400 tons burden, which had Ericsson machinery of the 
same type as that described in the case of the Massachusetts, She 
had been in the East India trade and was on record as having made 
the quickest voyage then known between Calcutta and Canton. 
After being fitted for war purposes the Edith was sent on a cruise 
to the Pacific station, where, in 1850, she was run ashore and 
wrecked, but without loss of life. 

The following list of engineers of the navy who served on 
vessels actively employed in the Mexican War is made up from a 
list given in General C. M. Wilcox's History of the Mexican War: 

Chief Engineer John Faron, Jr. 

" " D. B. Martin. 

" " William Sewell. 

First Assistant Engineer Saml. Archbold. 

(( (( 


L. S. Bartholomew. 

11 u 


E. G. Covel. 

11 (« 



T. H. Faron. 

11 11 


Jesse Gay. 

II u 


J. K. Matthews. 

ti u 


Hiram Sanford. 

11 it 


George Sewell. 

Second Assistant Engineer James Atkinson. 




N. C. Davis. 




Joshua Follansbee. 




John Gallagher. 




A. P. How. 

■ 1 


k 1 

B. F. Isherwood. 



1 1 

R. M. Johnson. 



Second Assistant Engineer, J. M. Middleton. 
" " " A. S. Palmer. 

" " " Theodore Zeller. 

Third Assistant Engineer J. M. Adams. 

Lafayette Caldwell. 
" John Carroll. 
" Charles Coleman. 
" Wm. E. Everett. 
"• Edward Faron. 

B. F. Garvin. 

J. E. Hatcher. 

J. W. King. 
" William Luce. 
" Charles A. Mapes. 
" J. W. Parks. 

W. H. Shock. 

William Taggart. 

J. C. Tennent. 
" M. M. Thompson. 
" J. A. Van Zandt. 
11 Wm. C. Wheeler. 
'* Edward Whipple. 


The material benefits to the United States resulting from the 
Mexican War were enormous,- and entirely out of proportion to the 
outlay of life and treasure involved, notwithstanding it is difficult at 
this distance in time for one to grow enthusiastic over the events of 
that unequal struggle. Desperate battles were fought; many note- 
worthy deeds of valor wore performed, and both army and navy 
achieved that peculiar distinction called glory, but to the American 
student of his country's history the fact that the military power of 
our great republic was ruthlessly used to overwhelm with woe and 
desolation a small sister republic struggling to maintain self-govern- 
ment on the democratic principles professed by the nation which in- 
flicted upon her the horrors of war, must ever remain prominent. 
The cause of freedom had then enough to contend with, without th»» 
greatest nation governed by its own people tearing to pieces a fee- 
ble follower of its institutions. 


The territory of the United States was increased one-third by 
the terms of the treaty 'which concluded the war, and a vast extent of 
sea coast on the Pacific Ocean was gained. The benefits to our 
country and to the world in general, resulting from this transfer of 
territory cannot be over-estimated, and this, as a manifestation of 
Providence forwarding the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race, must 
be our chief apology for the manner in which that vast region 
changed hands. California under Mexican rule gave little promise 
for the future, but in the hands of the energetic and investigating 
American became almost in a day both famous and wealthy. It 
had long been known to the Mexicans of California that their rivers 
ran over golden sands, but the indolent and ease-loving people pre- 
ferred the shade of their haciendas to the labor of exploring the 
mountains; manana or " the day after," would be ample time in which 
to investigate, and thus the great discovery bade fair to be neglect- 
ed for an indefinite time. 

The prying American lost no time in exploring his new posess- 
ions and within a year had proclaimed such wonderful discoveries 
that ships freighted with tools and men were converging upon the 
Golden Gate from every quarter of the globe ; steamship lines 
before impossible, were established, and the transcontinental rail- 
ways, which have hastened the development of the North American 
continent and the civilization of the Far East at least a century, 
were projected. It is a favorite statement of historians that the amount 
of gold produced by California since 1848 exceeds in value the 
enormous national debt incurred by the United States in the war 
for the preservation of the Union. ^ Granting this to be true, and 
admitting that the mineral wealth of the territory acquired from 
Mexico is yet beyond computation, the greater truth remains that all 
this is actually secondary in value to the wonderful agricultural 
resources of the same region. But for the aggressive and perhaps 
undemocratic policy which led the United States to despoil a 
neighbor whose form of government should have been her defense, 
California, with sources of wealth far greater than those possessed 
by more than one empire which has ruled the world, might yet be 
the hunting ground of hungry savages, her fields untilled, her 
orchards unplanted, and the treasure of her streams and mountain 
ledges still undisturbed save by the hoof of the antelope and the 
paw of the bear. 


"The wheel of fortune turns incessantly round, and who can say within 
himself, ' I shall to-day be uppermost.' " — Confucius. 

New steamers authorized for the navy in 1847— The Susquehanna, Powhatan, 
Sakanac, and San Jacinto— Mr. Haswell Succeeded as Engineer-in-Chief 
by Charles B. Stuart— Circumstances Connected with Mr. Haswell Leav- 
ing the Navy— His Great Services to the Naval Engineer Corps— His Subse- 
quent Career. 

STEAM, as we have seen, did not play an important part in the 
naval operations of the Mexican war, but the numerous oppor- 
tunities and advantages lost or not used simply for lack of 
motive power more reliable than the winds, served as excellent ob- 
ject lessons to direct naval and public attention to the necessity of 
having a fleet of steam war vessels if the navy were to be thereafter 
a useful military arm. In the report of the Secretary of the Navy 
for the year 1846 a policy of building war-steamers was urged, and 
in December of that year Mr. Fairfield, Chairman of the Senate 
Committee on Naval Affairs, asked the Department by letter for a 
statement as to the size, type, cost, &c, of the vessels desired. The 
reply was to the effect that at least four steamers, at an average 
cost of $500,000 each should be immediately undertaken, and the 
authority asked for was conferred by the naval appropriation bill 
then under consideration, which was approved March 3, 1847. The 
same act directed the Secretary of the Navy to enter into contract 
with E. K. Collins and his associates for the transportation of the 
United States mails between New York and Liverpool; with A. G. 
Sloo for the transportation of the mails between New York and 
New Orleans, touching at Havana, and with some other agent, not 
named, for the transportation of the mails from Panama to Oregon 
Territory. In the first two cases, the steamers of the contractors 
were to be built under the supervision of a naval constructor and 
were to be adapted to use as war vessels, the contractors being also 
required by the terms of the act to receive on board each of their 
steamers four passed midshipmen of the navy to act as watch offi- 


Mr. John T. Mason, Secretary of the Navy, on March 22, 
1847, ordered a board, consisting of Commodores Morris, Warring- 
ton and Smith, Engineer-in-Chief Haswell, Naval Constructors 
Grice, Lenthall and Hartt, and Mr. Charles W. Copeland, the emi- 
nent civilian engineer employed by the Navy Department, to assem- 
ble in Washington and determine upon the various features of the pro- 
posed vessels, the order stating in general terms some of the require- 
ments to be observed, and directing that one of the vessels " should 
be propelled by some of the various screw propellers." Later, 
Commodore Skinner and Chief Engineer John Faron, Jr. were ad- 
ded to the board, which met at frequent dates from March 23 until 
July 3, 1847, on which latter date its final report and recommenda- 
tions were submitted to the Department. So many interesting 
points arose later about the ships recommended by this board, and 
such a bitter controversy grew out iof alleged defects in the design 
of at least one of them that the matter eventually became the subject 
of congressional inquiry, and its history in detail thus got into print 
in the form of a public document — Executive Document 65 f House 
of Kepresentatives, Thirty-third Congress; First Session: this docu- 
ment the author has been fortunate enough to discover in that vast 
mine of information almost inaccessibly buried in the crypt of the 
Capitol, and from it the principal facts presented in this chapter are 

The proceedings of the board indicate that the Mississippi was 
regarded as a model from which to copy as much as possible. With- 
out going into all the differences "of .opinion, lengthy debates, and 
yea and nay votes indulged in by the commodores, constructors 
and engineers of the board, it is sufficient to say the resultant 
recommendations were the building of two large side- wheel steamers, 
similar to the Mississippi, but sufficiently large to carry coal, provi- 
sions, &c, for long voyages to foreign stations, and two smaller 
steamers, of about 2, 100 tons displacement, one of the latter, to be 
fitted with a screw propeller. Wood was designated as the material 
from which these vessels were to be built, the vote of the Board 
showing that Mr. Haswell was the only member who favored iron 
as building material for even one of them. The board also decided 
that Naval Constructors Grice and Lenthall should each design the 
hull of one of the larger steamers and that Mr. Hartt should design 


both of the smaller ones, Messrs. Haswell and Copeland each to de- 
sign machinery for one large and one small vessel. All these rec- 
ommendations were approved bf the Navy Department, and on the 
13th of July, 1847, the Secretary promulgated the President's order 
that the two large ships be built at Philadelphia and Norfolk respec- 
tively, and the smaller ones at Kittery and New York. 

The large steamer designed by Mr. Lenthall was named Sus- 
queJtanna, and was built in the navy yard at Philadelphia, where she 
was launched in April, 1850, and was entirely completed with ma- 
chinery ready for service at the end of that year. She was bark- 
rigged, 250 feet long, 45 feet beam and displaced 3,824 tons at 
her load draft of 19£ feet. The engines, designed by Charles W. 
Copeland, were built by Murray & Hazelhurst of Baltimore, under 
the supervision of Chief Engineer Wm. P. Williamson, U. S. Navy, 
and consisted of two inclined direct-acting condensing engines, With 
cylinders 70 inches in diameter and 10 feet stroke, fitted with 
inclined air pumps. The paddle wheels were of the ordinary radial 
type, 31 feet in diameter. There were four copper boilers 
of the double return, ascending flue type, containing 342 square 
feet of grate surface and 8,652 square feet of heating surface. 

In June, 1851, the Susquehantta sailed for the Asiatic station, 
then known as the East India Station, her first commander being 
Captain J. H. Aulick and her chief engineer Mr. Samuel Archboid. 
On the passage to Rio de Janeiro some defects or injuries to her 
engines and spars were discovered, resulting in a delay of some two 
months at the Brazilian capital, during which time repairs to the ex- 
tent of about $3,500 were made at the marine arsenal, mostly 
to the air pumps and paddle-wheels. Her performance thereafter 
was excellent, and most creditable «to her engineers, as may be seen 
from the following report of the commanding officer, which report 
is of special interest in these days when we rather pride ourselves 
on our ability to crosB wide seas under steam without an extravagant 
use of fuel, showing that the men of a previous generation were not 
wholly ignorant of the same desirable experience: 

U, S. Steam Fmgate Susquehanna, 
Tabus Bay, Cape of Good Hope, October 17, 1851. 

Bra: I have the honor to report our arrival here on th6 15th 
jostant, eighteen days from Bio de Janeiro. 


This passage has thoroughly and severely tested the strength 
of our masts and engines. The weather for the greater part of the 
time was very stormy, and the sea higher than I have ever known 
it before, causing the ship to roll and plunge to such a degree that 
frequently one wheel was eight or ten feet entirely clear of the sea, 
when the other was full half its diameter buried in it; but nothing 
of any importance gave way, and the engines were never stopped 
from the time we weighed our anchor in "Rio;" until it was let go 
in this bay. I, however, did not neglect to use our sails and econ- 
omize fuel; when the wind was fair, and the weather permitted, 
we used only two boilers, and with a daily expenditure of less than 
fourteen tons of coal, keeping up only sufficient steam to turn our 
wheels, we averaged for a number of days more than two hundred 
miles in the twenty-four hours. I adopted this course in preference 
to taking off the floats, for the reason that it is very difficult, if not 
impossible, to un-ship and re-ship them in a heavy seaway. We ex- 
pended on the passage only about half the coal with which we left 
"Rio." I am, &c, 

J. H. Auliok, 
Commanding Squadron, East Indies and China. 
Hon. William A. Geaham, Secretary of the Navy, 
Washington, D. C. 

The Susquehanna continued an efficient cruising steamer for 
many years, and was a prominent ship during the war of the rebel- 
lion; a few years after its close her machinery was entirely removed 
and the work of converting her into a screw steamer undertaken, but 
never completed, and she never went to sea again. 

Constructor Grice's steamer was the JPowhatan, launched at 
the Norfolk navy yard .February 14, 1850. The principal dimen- 
sions of the hull were practically the same as those of the Susque- 
hanna, but as her load draft when completed was about a foot less 
than that of the latter vessel, her displacement was also somewhat 
less; she was bark-rigged. The engines were designed by Engineer- 
in-Chief Haswell and were built by Mehaffy & Co., of Gosport, 
Va., under the inspection of Chief Engineer William Sewell, U. S. 
Navy. There were two inclined direct-acting condensing engine; 
with the same cylinder dimensions as those of the Susqeuhanna, b,n 



differing from that vessel in design, having vertical air pumps and 
a novelty in engine framing, the frames being of wrought iron, built 
up on the box-girder principle. There were four copper boilers of 
the same general dimensions as those of the sister ship, but differ- 
ing from them considerably in details of arrangement, fittings, etc. 
The lower flues were made elliptical to increase the heating surface. 


Length, 16 feet; breadth, 15 feet 3 inches; height, 13 feet; grate surface, 88| square 
feet; heating surface, 1,971 square feet. 

A new feature in marine engineering practice appeared in this ves- 
sel in the introduction of a small one-furnace auxiliary boiler, inten- 
ded primarily for supplying a hoisting engine to aid in coaling ship. 
The Powhatan also was fitted with two Worthington steam pumps, 
which is believed to be the first appearance in our navy of that now 
familiar auxiliary. 

Owing to a lack of professional and clerical aid, Engineer-in- 
Ohief Haswell personally designed every detail of the Powhatan's 
machinery and made the working drawings with his own hands in 
the intervals between attention to the necessary duties of his office. 
So pressed was he for time that he was unable to lay out a general 
design of the engines to work up to, but had to develop the various 
parts progressively. This feat is probably unprecedented in design- 
ing work of such magnitude, and, considered together with the re- 
markable success of the Powhatan's engines, furnishes a most valu- 
able index to the rare professional accomplishments of Mr. Haswell. 


































The Powhatan was employed in service, almost continously 
for a longer period than any steamer ever in the navy, with 
the sole exception of the Michigan, which latter vessel owes her 
longevity, as has been pointed out before, to the fact that her career 
has been confined to summer cruising on the fresh-water lakes of the 
Northwest. The copper boilers of the Powhatan of course had to 
be replaced in time, but her original engines remained thoroughly 
efficient *and trustworthy to the end, a monument to the ability of 
their designer and the skill of the men who built them. When the 
Powhatan was attached to the Japan expedition squadron, her chief 
engineer, George Sewell, wrote home that in a trip of three thou- 
sand miles under steam a hammer had not been touched to her en- 
gines, which ran with such rhythmic regularity that they seemed set 
to music. 

Even in her old age the Powhatan was a faster steamer than 
almost any other on the navy list and was decidedly the most com- 
fortable and popular with both officers and men. With ten pounds 
of steam and her great wheels making ten revolutions per minute 
she was proverbially capable of making ten knots an hour, and that 
without much reference to the state of the weather. In 1878, after 
she had outlived almost every steamer of her date, she fought for 
her lite off Hatteras, under the command of that splendid old sea- 
man, Captain T. S. Fillebrown, through one of the most awful cy- 
clones that any ship ever survived, and though terribly battered 
and strained, remained able to breast the sea for several years there- 
after. In that storm it is reported by the indisputable evidence of 
many observers that her fore yard-arm dipped into the sea. In 
1887, to the genuine regret of all in the navy, the Powhatan was 
condemned by a board of survey, being actually worn out in the ser- 
vice, and an unsentimental administration s°ld her poor old bones to the 

ghouls of the ocean — the ship-breakers. 

One of the two smaller vessels was built at the navy yard at 
Kittery, Maine, and named Saranac. She was the first of the 
four steamers to be completed, being launched in November, 1848, 
and sailed for a cruise in the West Indies in April, 1850. £>he was 
216 feet long, 38 feet beam, and of 2,200 tons displacement at the 
mean draft of 17 feet. The machinery, designed by Engineer 
CopeJand, was built by Coney & Co. of Boston, under the inspec- 


tion of Chief Engineers ¥m. W. W. Wood and D. B. Martin, and 
consisted of a pair of inclined direct-acting condensing engines with 
cylinders 60 inches in diameter and 9 feet stroke, driving radial 
paddle-wheels 27 feet in diameter. The engines were fitted with 
Stevens' patent cut-offs. There were three copper double-return 
drop-flue boilers, designed to carry twelve pounds of steam pressure, 
aggregating 188 square feet of grate surface and 5,127 square feet 
of heating surface. At an ordinary engine speed of about twelve 
revolutions per minute about eight knots an hour could easily be 
maintained. The rig was that of a bark, and her lines were so grace- 
ful and the external finish so perfect that she was regarded as an or- 
nament to the service. After a long career for a war vessel the 
Saranac came to a violent end in June, 1875, by running ashore and 
becoming a total wreck in Seymour Narrows, while on her way to 

The fourth one of these steamers — the Scm Jacinto — was, like 
the wrath of Achilles, " the direful spring of woes unnumbered, " to 
almost everyone ever prominently connected with her, her campaign 
of destruction beginning with blasting the naval career of Engi- 
neer-in-Chief Haswell. Designed by the same constructor, Mr. 
Hartt, who designed the Saranao, the hull was an exact counterpart 
of that vessel, and the rig was the same. She was built at the navy 
yard, New York, where she was launched in April, 1850. The en- 
gines were designed by Mr. Haswell and were built by Merrick and 
Towne of Philadelphia, under the inspection at different times of 
Chief Engineers Earon, Wood and Hunt, and finally Mr. Haswell 
himself. They consisted of two ' ' square ' ' engines, as they were 
termed, operating the shaft of a screw propeller; the cylinders were 
62f inches in diameter and 50 inches stroke, and were placed 
athwartship, inclined upward and outboard with the inner, or lower 
heads, in contact over the crank shaft. Long cross-heads carried 
two connecting rods for each engine, reaching backward and down- 
ward on each side of the cylinders to take hold of the cranks. There 
were three copper boilers of the same external dimensions as those 
of the /S(fvr<mac, but somewhat better designed, as they displayed 
more grate and heating surface. 

There were some strange things about this ship, one of which, 
was the location of the propeller shaft twenty inches to one side of 


the center line of the keel, which was done at the instance of the 
three naval constructors, members of the board that settled upon 
the plans for the vessel. These gentlemen were eminent in the 
business of ship designing and building, but screw-propelled ships 
were new to them and they could not bring themselves to agree to 
any application of steam power that involved cutting a big hole for 
a shaft through the stern post. It transpired that Ericsson, who had 
patents on a multitude of marine appliances, useful and other- 
wise, had a patent on a precisely similar arrangement. This loca- 
tion entailed the projection of the propeller shaft far enough beyond 
the stern to allow the screw to work abaft the rudder, which plan 
Mr. Haswell had opposed in the Board, but made his designs in ac- 
cordance when it was finally decided upon. The board also fixed 
the location of the engines so far aft and in such a cramped space 
that the engineer who had to design them was so handicapped that 
f it was practically impossible for him to arrive at an arrangement of 
details that would allow proper room for examination, repairing and 
adjustment of the machinery when assembled in place. The screw 
itself as designed was a ponderous six bladed affair, five feet wide 
axially and weighing some seven tons, which weight, overhanging 
the stern five feet at least, was manifestly a menace to the safety of 
the ship. Mr. Haswell claimed, and with propriety as the records 
of tlie Board show, that he was forced to such a design by the 
board's exaction that no patents be infringed, and the lighter types 
of screws then in use, having thin supported blades, were covered 
by Ericsson's patents. 

As the engines of the San Jacinto approached completion it be- 
gan to be gossiped abroad among engineers that the engineer-in- 
chief had made a fearful botch of his designs, and the various naval 
engineers and machinery contractors who fancied they had been 
wronged by him in the fearless performance of his official duties, ac- 
cording to his conscientious judgment, gathered their forces for his 
overthrow, the movement being simply a manifestation of the natural 
tendency of mankind to assail and humble the eminent. In a prim- 
itve state of society, man kills his rival with a club and eats him, 
partly in revenge, partly to remove an obstacle to his ambition, and 
partly to provide subsistence for himself. As we become enlightened, 
the older and more natural code of ethics is abandoned in deferenc 


to certain artificial prejudices which are adjuncts of civilization, and 
■while less rude are equally effective methods of personal warfare. 
This seems to he a necessity, for the natural predilection of man is 
a love of hostility to his species, as exhibited in personal rivalries 
and jealousies when a state of war does not afford an outlet for his 
passions under the guise of patriotism. 

Such a condition of society may be sad to contemplate in these 
closing years of the nineteenth century, and there are doubtless 
many who are thoughtlessly ready to controvert the proposition. A 
little reflection, however, will be convincing to the majority; for as 
wejook about the world it appears that in spite of all the doctrines 
of peace and good-will to man, promulgated by the apostles of Chris- 
tianity and other great religions, there does not and never has exis- 
ted, the nation large enough to permit of the harmonious existence 
within its borders at the same time, two great statesmen, soldiers, 
or others of the same calling ; nor is • there a village so small that 
two carpenters, shoemakers or blacksmiths within its limits fail to 
become rivals, each claiming his fellow craftsman to be incompetent 
and an imposter. Even the clergy, the anointed iapostles of the 
doctrine of peace, take delight in bitter quarrels of creed, or, failing 
in" opportunities for that, turn upon each other in the same denomi- 
tion and institute heresy trials, and critical inquisitions regarding 
their profession of faith. 

Unpalatable as it maybe, it is nevertheless a plain, unvarnished 
truth that fondness for war and strife is an instinct inherent in the 
human breast. Without this instinct success in any under- 
taking is well-nigh impossible, as society is at present consti- 
tuted. Nothing proves this more clearly than the history of 
nations, which, when analyzed, are simply tales of the con- 
tention of individuals striving for supremacy. He who becomes 
foremost in any walk in life must succeed at the expense of his fel- 
lows who are struggling for the same eminence, and it is literally 
"to him that overcometh, " who, according to Revelation, "shall 
be given power over the nations." 

Eeturning to the subject, after this digression, it must be ad- 
mitted that there were some radically bad features connected with 
the design of the San Jacinto's machinery, but the assertions freely 
made at the time that the engines were an " object of ridicule to all 

Mk. Charles B. Stuart, 
Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy, December 1, 1850, to June 30, 1853. 


engineers who have seen them," and a " standing monument of Mr. 
Haswell's incompetency and folly," were more ridiculous in view 
of Haswell's reputation and achievements as an engineer than any 
defect in these engines could possibly have been. Some of the 
faults of the San Jacinto's engines were forced upon the designer 
by conditions imposed by superior authority and were as well 
known to him as they could have been to any of his critics, 
while many of the other alleged defects existed chiefly in the minds 
of those who had decided the time had come to thrust him from the 
pedestal he occupied above all other scientific engineers of his time. 

The hue and cry had its effect, and late in November, 1850, 
the President appointed Mr. Charles B. Stuart of New York to the 
office of engineer-in-chief of the Navy from December 1st, Mr. Has- 
well resuming his place at the head of the list of chief engineers. 
Mr. Stuart was a civil engineer of prominence, being the superin- 
tendent of the Erie Canal at the time of his appointment, and made 
no pretense to knowledge of marine engineering, though he acquired 
considerable knowledge by experience while engineer-in-chief. "FTjh 
was purely a political appointment as a reward for party service, 
and he never was an enrolled member of the naval engineer corps. 
Some serious engineering mistakes, which have been or will be 
noted in these pages, occurred in the navy during his administra- 
tion, the result of which was that when he resigned, after an occu- 
pancy of his office for two years and a half, the custom was adopted 
of selecting the engineer-in-chief from the chief engineers of the 
navy, who were familiar with the service and the peculiarities of its 
steam vessels. While engineer-in-chief, Mr. Stuart performed good 
service for the engineering world by collecting the necessary data 
and publishing two remarkably valuable and reliable books on naval 
material — "The Naval Dry Docks of the United States," and "The 
Naval and Mail Steamers of the United States." 

The day after Mr. Stuart's induction into office, Mr. Haswell 
was ordered to assume the duty of superintendent of the installation 
of the San Jacinto's machinery, and Chief Engineer B. F. Isher- 
wood, who before entering the naval service had been associated 
with Mr. Stuart in the civil engineering work of the Erie canal, was 
detached from duty under the Light House Board and ordered as 
technical assistant to the engineer-in- chief . ^ Shortly thereafter, let- 



ters expressing grave doubts about tbe San Jacinto were sent by 
the engineer- in-chief to the chief of the bureau of construction, and 
requests made that a survey be held before the work of completing 
the ship was allowed to go further. As a result, a board consisting 
of Chief engineers Wm. P. Williamson, Wm. Sewell and Henry 
Hunt, provided with a categorical list of fifteen questions', the ans- 
wers to which, it was snpposed would damn the machinery of the 
San Jacinto, was assembled at New York to examine the vessel 
and report discoveries, a report being made February 10, 1851. It 


Diameter, 14J feeet. 
Pitch, 35 to 39 feet. 


Diameter, 14J feet. 
Pitch, 40 to 45 feet 

was decidely unfavorable to the engines in general, and especially 
severe in regard to the heavy projecting propeller and the side loca- 
tion of the shaft, both of which objectionable features were recom- 
mended for alteration. The propeller was altered accordingly, it 
so happening that the one originally designed had not yet been cast, 
although its mold was completed; the modified screw, as recommen- 
ded by the Board and designed by Mr. Isherwood, together with 
the one originally designed being represented by the outline sketches 
here inserted. 


The shaft passage through the stern having been cut, the rec- 
ommendation of the board of engineers regarding its modification 
was not carried out. It has been previously noted that Captain 
Ericsson had a patent on such an arrangement and he, through an 
attorney promptly made claim for infringement; the claim was 
T-eferred to Engineer-in-Ohief Stuart for an opinion, and that official 
made a most lengthy report, acknowledging in rather indirect terms 
that the shaft arrangement was practically the same as that described 
in the specification of Ericsson's patent and was therefore an 
infringement for which the patentee was entitled to damages. 
Besides this question, which was the only real point raised by 
Ericsson's claim, the engineer-ih-chief dilated upon other features 
of the San Jacinto's machinery involved very indirectly, if at all, 
in the claim, and of course proved they were not infringements, 
the object of this digression being apparently to make an occasion 
to reflect upon the machinery designs of the ex-engineer-in-chief, 
which reflection was introduced into the report somewhat neatly by 
the following sentence: " I cannot discover that the construction of 
the > engines ' of the San Jacmto involves the infringement of Cap- 
tain Ericsson's patent in any particular, nor do I think he would 
upon inspection of them, make any claim for the ' novelties ' intro- 
duced in their construction." 

The chief of the bureau of Construction was unable to extract 
any conclusions from the mass of verbiage with which the engineer- 
in-chief 's opinions were clothed, and returned the report to him as 
being "too indefinite to authorize a settlement of the question.' 1 
In replying to this, Mr. Stuart did himself no great credit by saying 
that if the report was indefinite it was ' ' owing to the extreme illness 
under which I was suffering at the time of writing the report. ' ' This 
oxcuse, taken into consideration with the uncalled-for comments 
injected into the original report, has been conclusive proof to the 
author in his patient investigation of this case, that professional zeal 
was not the only motive that inspired the engineer-in-chief, and that 
in his effort to disparage his predecessor he rather stultified himself. 
Chief Engineer Haswell, not giving satisfaction as an inspector 
of machinery to the new administration of the steam department, 
was eventually relieved from that duty and placed on waiting 
orders, the San Jacmto being completed and fitted for sea under 


the supervision of Chief Engineer Henry Hunt. When the ship 
was ready for sea, Mr. Haswell was ordered to her, his orders being 
brought about by the following recommendation, which explains 
itself fully as to animus and motives : 

Office of the Engineer-in-Chief, U. S. N., 
August 25, 1851. 

Sib : I respectfully recommend that chief engineer Henry 
Hunt be detached from the United States steamer San Jacinto, 
and ordered ; to the United States steamer Fulton ; and that chief 
engineer Charles H. Haswell, now waiting orders at New York, be 
ordered to the United States steamer San Jacinto. 

The propriety of the above recommendations will be obvious 
from the following considerations : 

The machinery, of the San Jacinto was designed by Mr. 
Haswell, and has been executed (with the exception of the propeller) 
in conformity with those designs. Upon my acceptance of the office 
of engineer-in-chief, the machinery of the San Jacinto was one of 
the first things that came under my notice, and struck me so entirely 
unfavorably, that I reported my opinion to the bureau, with the 
recommendation that a board of chief engineers be ordered to 
examine it, and report their opinion. The bureau acted on this 
recommendation, and the resulting report of the board completely 
sustained my own views ; their condemnation of the engines and 
propeller was full and unlimited, while, with a view to save the 
vessel from utter failure, the board proposed a new propeller of such 
proportions as the mal-design of the machinery had rendered neces- 
sary. This report was approved by the bureau, the new propeller 
was made in conformity with it, and is at present fitted to the vessel 
now about completed. 

As the professional reputation of Mr. Haswell is involved in 
the performance of the machinery of this vessel, the propriety of 
sending him to sea in charge of it, instead of in charge of chief 
engineer Hunt, who was one of the board that condemned it, is too 
apparent for argument. 

Furthermore, the Fulton has machinery designed by me, and 


executed in conformity with my instructions ; and as it is necessary, 
owing to the limited number of chief engineers in the service, that 
Mr. Haswell be ordered either to the San Jacinto or Fulton, as he is 
the only chief engineer unemployed, the impropriety of putting 
him in charge of machinery designed by one who was compelled by 
his position and sense of duty to the disagreeable task of ■'pointing 
out the defects of, and condemning Mr. Haswell's machinery, can- 
not fail to be properly appreciated. 

Independently of the above considerations, the health of Mr. 
Hunt is such as to utterly incapacitate him for a long cruise, while 
he is sufficiently able to perform the short runs which will probably 
constitute the chief duty of the Fulton. 

I have, therefore, in justice and delicacy to all parties, to con- 
clude with the suggestion that the detachment of Mr. Hunt from the 
San Jacinto and ordering to the Fulton, and the ordering of Mr. 
Haswell to the San Jacinto, be made, to take effect on the 15th 
September next, which will give sufficient time for the performance 
of the trial trip of the San Jacinto, and the putting her in the hands 
of Mr. Haswell with her machinery in complete order. 

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully your obedient 

Chas. B. Stuaet, 

Per B. F. Ishebwood, 
Chief Engineer, 
Com. Chas. Wm. Skinneb, 

Chief of Bureau of Construction, &c. 

At that time Mr. Haswell was a confirmed invalid from a 
torpid liver and chronic dyspepsia, which caused his subjection to 
a medical survey, two of the three members of the medical board 
reporting him unfit for sea service. When this report reached the 
Department the Secretary was absent and the Secretary of "War was 
acting in his stead; that official, although he had said in private 
conversation that Mr. Haswell was unfit for service, inadvertantly 
signed a dissent from the decision of the medical board, which the 
chief clerk, had laid before him with all the letters of the day. As 
soon as the San Jacinto was put in commission, the surgeon reported 


Mr. Haswell as being unfit for sea duty, and not long afterward the 
surgeon and his assistant joined in a report to the same effect. No 
notice of these reports being taken, Mr. Haswell wrote to Commo- 
dore Morris, with whom he had been associated for several years, 
saying that he would be forced to resign on account of his health, 
but he was dissuaded from that by the commodore obtaining from 
the. Secretary of the Navy a promise that in case the chief engineer's 
health did not improve by the time the vessel arrived at Gibraltar 
he would be invalided home, upon which assurance Mr. Haswell 
agreed to remain in the ship. 

When the ship was about to sail, the surgeon and commanding 
officer both reported that Mr. Haswell was unable to proceed, 
and he, fearing that his friend, Commodore Morris, would think 
he had been instrumental in obtaining these reports, and thus 
had broken faith both with him and the agreement with the Secre- 
tary as to his remaining in the ship, telegraphed to Commodore 
Morris that the reports were not made at his instance. The com- 
modore went to the Secretary, who was in the act of signing the 
order relieving Haswell from duty, and by exhibiting the tele- 
gram convinced him that the detachment was unnecessary. In this 
manner it happened that from an over sensitiveness regarding the 
estimate of his integrity he remained in the ship, and the misunder- 
standing of the telegram lost him his detachment, and in the end 
his commission as well. Three days after the vessel sailed he was 
put on the sick list and relieved from duty. Upon the arrival of 
the vessel at Cadiz he proceeded to Gibraltar to get the necessary 
orders for detachment from the commander-in-chief of the station, 
in accordance with the promise of the Secretary of the Navy, bat 
that officer declined to take any action in the matter. 

Sick, relieved from duty, denied the immunity of four reports 
of surgeons as to his physical unfitness, the promise of the Secretary 
of the Navy ignored, disgusted with his treatment, and mentally 
depressed, Chief Engineer Haswell left his ship on his own respons- 
ibility and returned to his own country, for which act, regardless 
of his past invaluable services for the steam navy, he was drop- 
ped from the rolls of the navy, the date of this action of the 
Department being May 14, 1852. Some years later (in 1859) the 
President at the close of a session of Congress sent his name to the 


Senate for confirmation as a chief engineer in his former pot jirion, 
but Congress adjourned before the nomination was reached, and Mr. 
Haswell made no effort to have the matter revived, as he was very 
profitably employed at the time. 

The engineer corps owes much to Mr. Haswell as its organizer 
and steady champion, and we of thiB day cannot but wonder at the 
great progress he made considering his limited official power and 
the intense prejudice he had to struggle against. Not only were 
many of the most influential of the old naval officers bitterly 
opposed to the invasion of Bteam into the domain they regarded as 
their own, but at least one Secretary of the Navy shared the same 
conservative sentiment. Mr. Secretary Paulding, who ruled the 
Navy Department when the steam navy was very yonng, set naval 
progress back a number of years by blocking the attempts to intro- 
duce the new power. In his diary he complained of being steamed 
to death, and wrote that he " never would consent to see our grand 
old ships supplanted by these new and ugly sea-monsters," the 
sea-monsters referred to especially being the beautiful steamers 
Mississippi and Missouri. 

Mr. Haswell was master of the engineering science of his time 
and fully appreciated the magnitude of the change in naval methods 
meant by the introduction of steam, never missing an opportunity 
to teach and preach his belief. Without having any faith in Lieu- 
tenant Hunter's scheme of submerged propulsion, he nevertheless 
gave that officer much aid in his projects and furnished him with 
designs for machinery simply because Hunter needed steam, and 
his vessels, although fore-doomed to failure, were still additions to 
the steam navy. Captain Stockton, also, found in him a staunch 
supporter, always ready to supply professional facts and arguments 
in refutation of the many objections raised by the old conservatives 
against Stockton's scheme for a war-steamer. 

Especially fortunate was Mr, Haswell in being associated with 
Captain M. C. Ferry at the beginning of his naval career, for in 
him he found a friend of his profession and a supporter broad- 
minded enough to realize that a new era in naval construction had 
dawned, and that the interests of the naval service demanded its 
recognition to the subordination of all the prejudices of the past. 
To quote from Captain Ferry's biographer, he, "first, last, and 


always honored the engineer and believed in his eqnal possession, 
■with the line officers, of all the soldierly virtues, notwithstanding 
that the man at the lever, out of sight of the enemy, must needs 
lack the thrilling excitement of the officers on deck. He felt that 
courage in the engine-room had even a finer moral strain than the 
more physically exciting passions of the deck. ' ' 

As this is probably the last appearance in this history of the 
eminent engineer who was the first leader and pioneer of the naval 
engineer corps, except by occasional reference to his works, it is 
fitting that this chapter should close with a brief review of his 
career and achievements, 

Charles H. Haswell was born in the city of New York in the 
year 1809, and from earliest youth exhibited a decided talent for 
mechanical investigations and pursuits, having at the age of fifteen 
constructed a small fire-engine and later a steam engine of such 
excellence that both were readily disposed of to pecuniary advan- 
tage. After receiving a classical education, he entered upon the 
calling to which his natural bent directed by entering the employ of 
the engineering establishment of James P. Allaire of New York, 
where he developed into a thorough competent theoretical and 
practical mechanical engineer. In 1836, when twenty-seven years 
of age, and with the reputation of being one of the best scientific 
engineers in New York, he was appointed by the Navy Depart- 
ment as superintending engineer and later chief engineer of the 
steamer Fulton, his naval career in connection with that vessel and 
others having already been told. "While connected with the Fulton 
at the New York navy yard Mr. Haswell (in 1837) lengthened the 
gig of the sloop-of-war Ontario and fitted in it a small engine and 
boiler with which the boat was run about the harbor; this was 
undoubtedly the first successful essay of a steam launch, notwith- 
standing the many claims that have been put forth regarding the 
origin of that useful application of steam. 

In 1846, while engineer-in- chief of the navy, Mr. Haswell con- 
ceived the idea of placing zinc slabs in marine boilers to divert 
oxidation from their plates and had zinc placed in the boilers of the 
Princeton that year for the same purpose. He also had zinc placed 
in the hold of an iron steamer, the Legare of the Eevenue Marine 
fleet, with the same object in view. This use of zinc was nearly 
thirty years before it was tried in England as a new invention. 


Since leaving the naval service in 1852, Mr. Haswell has been 
actively engaged in the professions of civil and mechanical engine- 
ering in his native city. He has been a Member and President of 
the Common Council of the city of New York; a trustee of the New 
York and Brooklyn bridge; Surveyor of steamers for Lloyd's and 
the Underwriters of New York, Boston and Philadelphia; Consult- 
ing Engineer for the Health Department, Quarantine Commission, 
and Department of Public Charities and Correction of New York; 
etc., etc. He designed and superintended the construction of the 
long crib at Hart's Island, and the filling in of Hoffman's Island 
and the erection of buildings on same; designed and superintended 
many commercial steamers, foundations for some of the heaviest 
buildings in New York, tests of water works plants, etc. One of his 
greatest works is the volume of rules and formula pertaining to 
mathematics, mechanics and physics, compiled in the engineer's 
handbook that bears his name, a book so invaluable that it has 
reached its fifty-ninth edition and has won the name of the 
"Engineer's Bible. " Mr. Haswell is an honorary life member of 
the American Society of Naval Engineers ; a member of the 
American Society of Civil Engineers; the Institution of Civil 
Engineers, and the Institution of Naval Architects of England; the 
Engineer's Club of Philadelphia, the New York Academy of 
Sciences, the American Institute of Architects, the New York 
Microscopical Society, etc., etc. 


' ; ■"■ "Into the city of Kambalu, 

By the road that leadeth to Ispahan 
At the head of his dusty caravan, 
Laden with treasures from realms afcu. 
Baldacca and Kelat and Kandahar, 
Bode the great captain Alau." 

— Longfellow. 

The Expedition to Japan and Treaty with That Country— Services of Engi- 
neers in the Expedition — Value of Steamers in Impressing the Japanese— Other 
Naval Affairs in the Far East. 

THE opening of the ports of Japan to the world's commerce was 
one of the direct sequences of the settlement of California by 
citizens of the United States, for the latter event was accompanied 
with an immediate marine traffic in the Pacific and this in turn 
demanded the establishment of coaling ports, harbors of refuge, and 
other necessities to navigation on all the shores of that ocean. An 
extensive trade with China already existed, and the American whale- 
fisheries in Asiatic waters gave employment to ten thousand men 
and represented an investment of seventeen million dollars. The 
march of commercial progress demanded that the veil of mystery 
and exclusiveness so long drawn over the Japanese islands be re- 
moved and the coasts of that country be opened and free to the 
world's shipping. The only port in Japan where foreigners were 
allowed to touch was Nagasaki in the southern part of the empire, 
where a Dutch trading station was permitted to exist under almost 
penal conditions, allowing annual visits from a single ship, bringing 
goods for exchange. To this place, any sailors who might be ship- 
wrecked on the Japanese coast, and they were numerous, were 
conveyed and kept in close confinement until the time arrived for 
sending them out of the country by the Dutch merchantman. 

In 1849, Commander James Glynn, U. S. Navy, in the brig 
Preble visited Nagasaki to demand the release of some American 
sailors known to be imprisoned there, and succeeded in his mission 
although not without much difficulty, as the authorities were very 


loth to have anything to do with a foreigner, other than the lonely 
dutch trader. While there, Glynn made a careful study of Japanese 
affairs and when he returned to the United States early in L851 he 
represented to the Navy Department that the time was ripe for 
either forcing or flattering Japan into the brotherhood of nations, 
urging furthermore that he be sent on a diplomatic mission with 
that object in view. The idea was well received, but when steps 
were taken to organize a squadron sufficiently large to lend force 
and dignity to the expedition, Glynn found himself speedily out- 
ranked, and had to step aside for his seniors who commanded larger 
ships; to him, however, belongs the credit for beginning the move- 
ment which ended in the great triumph of Matthew 0. Perry. In 
June, 1851, Commodore Aulick, commissioned by Secretary of 
State, Daniel Webster to negotiate a treaty with Japan, sailed for 
the East India station in the new side-wheel steamer Susquehanna, 
some of the details of this first voyage having been related in a former 

Soon after arriving on the station; late in the year, Commodore 
Aulick was abruptly recalled, being temporarily relieved by Com- 
mander Franklin Buchanan of the flagship and later by Commodore 
M. C. Perry. The direct cause for Aulick's detachment was 
alleged violation of naval orders in having taken his son to sea with 
him as a passenger, and for having stated that he had been obliged 
to defray the expense of carrying the Brazilian minister, Macedo, 
from the United States to his own country. Commodore Aulick's 
friends asserted that Perry had deliberately undermined him, and 
the subject became one of those factional controversies which have 
from time to time become notorious in our naval annals. The fact 
that Perry had for some time been making a study of matters relat- 
ing to Japan and its people, gave strength to the charge that he had 
sacrificed a brother captain to his own ambition, but it is also a 
matter of official record that he was at the same time an applicant 
for the command of the Mediterranean squadron and felt himself 
aggrieved when ordered to the Far East. His biographer publishes 
a long letter addressed to the Secretary of the Navy, dated Decem- 
ber 3, 1851, in which Perry speaks of the command of the Medit- 
erranean squadron as his fondest ambition, and objects to the pro- 
posed detail to Japan on the ground that it would be a degradation 


in rank for him to relieve Aulick who had served nnder him in a 
squadron some years before. This seems to clear Commodore 
Perry of any charge of double-dealing in the matter; at any rate the 
quarrel has no place in this book, and would not be referred to 
were it not necessary for the sake of thoroughness, to outline the 
steps leading up to, what may be fairly considered, the proudest 
achievement of the American navy. 

On the 24:th of January, 1852, Perry received orders to assume 
command of the East India squadron, and he at once began vigor- 
ously to make all necessary preparations for impressing the Japan- 
ese with the power and resources of the nation whose friendship they 
were asked to accept. His steam favorite the Mississippi was 
given for his flagship, and in compliance with his urgent request 
that he have more steamers, the Princeton and Alleghany, both 
then under extensive repairs, were promised. The mishaps to these 
vessels and their eventual failure to become part of the expedition 
are matters that have already been told. Perry had coal and ships' 
stores sent out in sailing vessels and by appealing to the mechanical 
industries of the country he made a vast collection of the imple- 
ments of civilization with which to demonstrate to the Japanese 
the benefits they would derive from intercourse with foreign nations. 
Among other things he had a small locomotive and car, with rails 
to lay a circular track upon which to operate; agricultural machin- 
ery, telegraphic instruments, arms, sewing machines, printing 
presses, metal-working machinery, tools of various kinds, and all 
sorts of labor saving appliances. In a word, Perry drew upon the 
field of the engineer for his most potent arguments, and ' by that 
sign he conquered a peace that never could have been achieved by 
mere show of force or use of arms. 

Wearied of delays, Perry finally sailed from Norfolk with only 
the Mississippi on the 24th of November, 1852, and proceeded to 
his station by way of Madeira and the Cape of Good Hope, arriving 
at Hong Kong on the 6th of April, 1853, and at Shanghai on May 
4th. His flag was transferred to the Susquehanna on May 17, that 
vessel being the designated flagship of the squadron. Before going 
to the principal Japanese islands a visit was made to the Eiu Kin 
,(also spelled Lew Chew and Loo Choo) and the Bonin islands. At 
.Napa in ftiu Kiu the telegraphic, photographic, and other appliances 


■were tested to make sure that no failures would occur later. The 
artist, Mr. Brown, who had charge of the daguerrotype outfit, not 
being a specialist in that particular art, had some trouble in his pre- 
liminary work and called to his aid Third Assistant Engineer 
Edward D. Kobie of the Mississippi, who from a love for scientific 
matters had made bimself an expert in this art. He succeeded at 
his first attempt with the apparatus, and took what is supposed to 
be the first daguerrotype ever made in the far east ; it being a 
picture of Commodore Ferry standing at the gateway of a native 
temple. Perry was delighted with Eobie's work and remarked to 
him, "I believe that you engineers can do anything." 

Finally the squadron, then consisting of the steamers Missis- 
sippi and Susquehanna and the sailing sloops of war Saratoga and 
Plymouth, proceeded northward and on the 7th of July entered 
Teddo Bay and came to anchor off the village of Uraga. Foreign 
ships were no curiosity in those waters even then. Seven years 
before, Commodore Biddle with the ship-of-the-line Columbus and 
sloop-of-war Vmeennes had visited the same spot, in the hope of 
securing permission for his countrymen to trade, but was turned 
away with a positive refusal. Many whalers and merchant vessels 
had been there, sometimes seeking in vain for commercial inter- 
course with the people; sometimes driven in by stress of weather to 
be refused a harbor of refuge, and sometimes on errands of mercy 
bringing home Japanese waifs picked up adrift at sea in their junks. 
In 1848 foreign shipping in the seas about Japan had so increased 
that the fact was noted as a remarkable phenomenon by the native 
chroniclers, and in 1850 it had been made a matter of grave report 
to the great officials of the empire that no less than eighty-six of the 
"black ships of the i-jim," had been counted passing MatsumaS 
within the space of a single year. 

If foreign ships were familiar objects, steamers were not, 
for Perry's two steam frigates were the first craft of the kind to be 
seen in Japanese waters and their appearance excited the utmost 
consternation among the intelligent; for the Japanese are of an 
investigating and mechanical turn of mind, and all who were above 
ascribing the movements of the mysterious ships without sails to the 
spirits of evil, immediately reasoned that they must have some 
motive power, to themselves unknown, but about which, it would 


be good to learn. The ignorant peasants supposed that the foreign 
barbarians had succeeded in imprisoning volcanoes in their ships, 
or, refusing to believe the evidence of their own eyes, comforted 
each other with the assurance that the uncanny spectacle was simplj 
a mirage created by the breath of clams and would soon pas3 away. 

Commodore Perry had thoroughly informed himself of the 
eeremonial customs of Japan, and used his knowledge of the extrav- 
agant etiquette observed by the people of that country to good and 
successful purpose. He secluded himself in his cabin and played 
Mikado and Sho-gun to perfection, first to the provocation, and 
finally to the amazement and awe, of the local officials of constantly 
increasing rank who visited the flagship, only to be snubbed by 
refusals to see the chief barbarian. Even the governor of the dis- 
trict learned to his mortification and dismay that he was not a per- 
sonage important enough to be allowed to meet the mysterious 
power hidden behind the cabin doors. Orders to depart were met 
only by a movement of the ships further up the bay towards Tedo; 
offers to supply food and water in the hope that the unwelcome vis- 
itors would then leave were politely declined, and the natives were 
forced into accepting the proposal offered; namely, of designating 
an official of proper rank to meet the barbarian and listen to what 
he had to say. On the 14th of July, all arrangements having Been 
completed, Ferry first showed himself and went on shore with a 
large suite of officers and four hundred marines and sailors to meet 
the two commissioners appointed to deal with him. The whole 
affair was conducted studiously for theatrical effect to impress the 
natives with the grandeur and importance of the event, no detail of 
dress Or ceremony likely to appeal to the sensibilities of the Japan- 
ese being omitted. A letter from the President of the United 
States to the "Emperor of Japan" asking that friendly rela- 
tions between the two. nations be established was delivered to the 
commissioners with all pomp and solemnity, but with few words, 
and the visitors withdrew, Perry saying that he would allow ample 
time for consideration and would return the following spring for an 

The vessels proceeded southward to Hong Kong, where the 
Powhatan, which had left the United States in March to join the 
squadron in place of the discarded Princeton, and some of the sail- 


ing vessels belonging to the station were met. Headquarters for 
the Japanese expedition were established at Macao, where a house 
was rented and facilities furnished the members of the expedition 
for developing their sketches and writing reports of their observa- 
tions. A number of specialists were attached to the different ships 
with appointments as master's mates in order that they would be 
subject to naval discipline, thereby avoiding the friction always 
resulting from joint naval and civil enterprises afloat. Principal 
among these were Messrs. Heine and Brown, the water-color artists 
whose beautiful pictures so embellish Commodore Perry's report, 
and Mr. Bayard Taylor, the " landscape painter in words. " Be- 
sides the specialists a number of officers belonging regularly to the 
navy contributed much valuable material for the report of the exped- 
ition, notable among these being Surgeon Daniel S. Green and 
Chaplain George Jones. A number of the most accurate drawings 
relating to Japanese boat building and marine affairs published in 
the report, were made by Third Assistant Engineer Mortimer Kel- 
logg of the Powhatan. 

In January 1854 the squadron again moved northward, con- 
sisting of the steamers JPowhatan, Susquehanna and Mississippi, and 
the sloops-of-war Macedonian, Vandalia, Plymouth aud Saratoga; 
the store-ships Supply, Leasmgton and Southampton, with coal and 
provisions for the ships, and presents for the Japanese government, 
were also in company. On the 11th of February the greater part of 
this force had assembled off Yedo Bay, anchoring on the 13th off 
Yokosuke, where the great navy yard of New Japan is now located. 
The mystery play began again by Perry retiring from public view 
and holding the visiting officials at a respectful and chilly distance. 
While the Japanese were exhausting their efforts to induce the for- 
eigners to go away and leave them in peace, boats were kept busy 
sounding and surveying the adjacent waters and giving intelligible 
names to the prominent features of the region; one name thus be- 
stowed, Mississippi Bay, so well known to all visitors to Japan, will 
serve for all time to perpetuate in a far country the name of the 
historical old steamer whose keel was the first of foreign build to 
disturb its waters. 

The following is a list of the officers of the engineer corps 
serving in this squadron on the expedition which is the principal 
subject of this chapter: 






Chief Engineer 
<c i. 



<> >i 


First Assistant 


a it 



It II 


William Holland- 


1. II 







•I If 


George T. W. Logan.. 





• l If 



fl 11 





William Henry King„ 

Wm. H. Kuthert'ord... 
George W. Alexander. 

Stephen D. Hibbert.... 
Henry Fauth 


II (1 



II (t 

f 1 

Mississippi. i 

II 11 




•1 II 





It II 



11 ll 




Edward D. Eobie 


If II 


II It 



On the 24th of February, Perry, to convince the Japanese that 
he was in earnest and would not be put oft:, moved six of the 
ships up the Bay to within hearing of the temple bells of Yeddoand 
anchored not far above Kanagawa. This move had the desired ef- 
fect, for the Sho-gun'a government sent word in post haste, " If 
the American ships come to Yeddo it will be a national disgrace. 
Stop them, and make the treaty at Kanagawa. " Yokohama, a small 
fishing village across an arm of the bay from Kanagawa, was finally 
fixed upon as the place for the negotiations and there the Japanese 
erected the necessary buildings for the ceremony, the enclosure about 
them embracing the present location of the Custom House and 
British Consulate in the cosmopolitan city that Yokohama has now 

On the 8th of March Perry landed with five hundred armed 
men, and a glittering staff of officers in full uniform, the same cer- 
monial display and scrupulous etiquette being observed which had 
so impressed the natives on the occasion of his former visit. The 
first formalities having been performed with becoming splendor and 


dignity, the discussion of what was wanted was conducted more at 
leisure, the remainder of that month being thus consumed before a 
treaty was finally agreed to and signed. This treaty, which was 
signed on March 31st, conceded little to the Americans, but served 
as the thin end of the wedge for great possibilities thereafter. By 
its terms the Japanese agreed to treat kindly shipwrecked mariners; 
gave permission for ships to buy fuel, water, provisions, and other 
needed stores, and specified the ports of Simoda and Hakodate as 
places where foreign ships might anchor for repairs or to find ref- 
uge from storms. Trade in other than necessary ship supplies and 
permission to reside in the country were refused. These privileges, 
together with many others, and the opening of several treaty ports, 
followed in due time through the efforts of other diplomats. 

While negotiations were going on at Yokohama the great collec- 
tion of presents brought for the " Emperor," but by error given to 
the Sho-gun, was landed and displayed to the officials and people. 
The railway track, 369 feet in circumference, was laid by Chief 
Engineer Gay of the Mississippi and on it the little locomotive and 
car were daily operated, under the superintendence of Engineer 
Robert Danby of the same steamer, to the great interest and de- 
light of the people. The telegraph line, a mile long, was another 
source of wonder and shrewd investigation on the part of the inquis- 
itive and intelligent Japanese. This was in charge of two telegra- 
phers named Draper and Williams, rated as master's mates, but 
was operated part of the time by engineers Alexander and Kobie, 
whom Commodore Perry had sent ashore in New York in 1852 for 
a month, for the express purpose of learning telegraphy. A wealth 
of other useful articles — stoves, clocks, maps, books, and machinery 
of all kinds — were displayed, and their uses explained, this exhibi- 
tion of mechanical appliances did more to win the people over to 
the fact that it would be beneficial to them to become neighbourly 
with other nations than all the arguments and bluster in the world. 
From the Japanese accounts of this most important event in their 
national history, it appears that the determining factors in Perry's 
success were his steamships and the machinery he brought with him. 
With a decided bent for the mechanic arts themselves, the Japanese 
were quick to see that the foreigners were far ahead of them in that 
respect, and they were willing to lay aside their ideas of exclusive- 


ness for the opportunity of learning what the strangers had to teach. 

The world at large knows of the wonderful results which 
sprung from the modest beginning above outlined, for the story of 
Japan is the most marvelous in all the histories of the nations. As 
Perry saw Japan, the people of that country were engulfed in the 
darkness and ignorance of a despotism fixed upon them by an un- 
changing and pitiless feudal domination of twenty centuries duration, 
a condition beside which the state of society existing along the banks 
of the Khine in the middle of the Dark AgeB would appear enlight- 
ened by contrast. From such a forbidding prospect the mind is 
dazed as it turns to look at New Japan with its railways, telegraph, 
post offices, factories, school-houses, and church-steeples, all as fa- 
miliar objects to the people as they are to the dwellers in either 
Old or New England. The feudal system abolished; a parliamen- 
tary form of government established; the hundreds of thousands of 
idle and predatory knights deprived of their tyrannical prerogatives 
and transformed into industrious men, and the yoke of serfdom re- 
moved from the necks of four-fifths of the population of the empire 
are examples of the miracles that have been wrought in that wonder- 
ful land within the memory of men but little past middle age. 

Having placed herself in the foremost rank of the civilized na- 
tions by making full use of the heritage of the ages conferred upon 
her, Japan has made herself the champion of modern enlightenment 
and assumed the task of breaking down Chinese conservatism and 
of introducing the methods of Western civilization by force into the 
greatest and most obstinate country that has ever been a barrier to 
the world's progress. By availing themselves of Western discip- 
line, tactics and humane methods of warfare the brave little Japa- 
nese have been able to prevail against great numerical odds and by 
a series of victories, each more brilliant than its predecessor, have 
proceeded uninterruptedly on their mission of carrying enlightment 
and civilization into the Dark East. Great as may be the victory 
to Japan as a nation, its moral and far-reaching effects will be much 
greater for the well-being of the world. When New Japan has 
celebrated her victories and duly honored her great captains who 
achieved them, she cannot pay a more appropriate tribute to the first 
cause that made her modern power possible, than by erecting on the 
strand at Yokohama a statue of Matthew C. Perry, looking outward 
upon the water over which his steamers brought Western methods 


into Japanese history. And on the pedestal of that statue should be 
carved an image of a steamship, or some other symbol of the me- 
chanic arts, as the true sign of the beginning of the greatness of 
New Japan; the sign by which she was conquered and by which she 
in turn has conquered. 

Following the completion of negotiations in Japan, Perry's 
squadron began to disband, the Commodore himself proceeding home 
by way of Europe in a Peninsular and Oriental mail steamer — the 
Hindustan. The Mississippi left Hong Kong on the 12th of Sep- 
tember and after touching at Simoda in Japan began the long voy- 
age homeward by way of Honolulu and Rio de Janeiro. She ar- 
rived at New York the 23d of April, 1855, having circumnavigated 
the globe during her absence and placed herself on record as the 
second steam vessel of the United States navy to do so. The Sus- 
quehanna also returned home by way of the Pacific and South Amer- 
ica, her arrival in Philadelphia on the 10th of March giving her the 
honor of being the first American naval steamer to make a cruise 
around the world. 

The home-coming ships brought with them many presents, now 
in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, illustrative of the skill 
of artists and artisans of Japan, consisting of bronze, ivory, porcelain, 
and other work. More appropriate even were the blocks of carved 
and inscribed stone from different parts of Japan given for the 
Washington monument and whieh may now be seen in the walls of 
that structure. From Napa in Kiu Kiu came as a gift the large bronze 
bell which for so many years has hung in its little temple in the 
grounds of the Naval Academy. The date of founding inscribed on 
this bell corresponds to the year 1456, A. D., and part of the in- 
scription on it, as translated by Giro Kunitomo, a Japanese student 
at the academy, reads as follows: 

"This beautiful bell has been founded, and hung in the tower 
of the temple. It will awaken dreams of superstition. If one will 
bear in mind to act rightly and truly, and the Lords and the Minis- 
ters will do justice in a body, the barbarians will never come to in- 
vade. The sound of the bell will convey the virtue of Fushi, and 
will echo like the song of Tsuirai; and the benevolence of the Lords 
will continue forever like those echoes." 

Eegardless of the prediction thus written in brass, the barbarians 
not only came but carried the bell away with them. 


The Tai-ping rebellion being in progress in China at the tim© 
now being dealt with, the United States vessels remaining in that 
region were kept actively employed in protecting the lives and prop- 
erty of American citizens. Piracy became rampant along the coasts 
and compelled much dangerous service in seeking out the piratical 
junks and capturing them in hand-to-hand conflicts, a chartered 
steamer of light draft, named the Queen, being especially active in 
this work. Referring to this disagreeable service, the Secretary of 
the Navy wrote in his annual report for 1855: " In these several en- 
counters, the officers and men have conducted themselves gallantly, 
and honorable mention is made of Lieutenants Pegram, Preble, Ro- 
lando, E. Y. McCauley, and Sproston; Assistant Engineers Stamm 
and Kellogg; Acting Masters' Mates J. P. Williams and S. R. Craig; 
and Private Benjamin Adamson, of the Marine Corps, who was 
dangerously wounded. I deem this a proper occasion to suggest the 
purchase or building of one or two steamers of light draught, to be 
used in the Chinese rivers, as indispensable for the protection of the 
immense property belonging to citizens of the United States in 

In July, 1855, while entering the harbor of Hong Kong, the 
Powhatan by accident had the starboard air-pump machinery so 
completely wrecked that the ship was seemingly disabled for an in- 
definite time. An international complication with Spain at the time 
made it probable that the next mail would bring news of a state of 
war, and the presence of a Spanish war vessel in Hong Kong har- 
bor rendered the helpless condition of the Powhatan a source of most 
serious apprehension. In this emergency Mr. George Sewell, her 
chief engineer, rigged up a connection between the two engines, so 
that the port engine did the condensing of steam for the disabled 
starboard engine, the work being completed within forty-eight hour* 
after the breakdown and the Powhatan made ready for any service, 
including battle if necessary. Officers of the British war-steamer 
Battler, who attended a trial trip to test the success of Mr. Sewell's 
emergency makeshift, remarked that a chief engineer in their navy 
would be knighted for rendering service of such value in a similar 
emergency. A.n idea of the extent of the difficulty overcome by 
this ingenious engineer may be gained from the fact that ten weeks 
were consumed in permanently repairing the damages. 


" Our tall ships have souls, and plow with Reason up the deeps." 

Ogilbt, Translation of the Odyssey. 

End of the Experimental, and Beginning of the Creative Period of the Amer- 
ican Steam Navy — The Franklin — The Mebbimao class of Screw Frigates 
— The Niagara — Services of Chief Engineer Everett in connection with 
the Atlantic Cable Laid by the Niagara — The Hartford class of Large 
Screw Sloops — Mr. Archbold succeeds Mr. Martin as Engineer-in-Chief — 
The Mohican class — The Pawnee— The Paraguay Expedition — Small 
Steamers Purchased for the Navy — Project to Convert Old Line-of -Battle 
Ships into Steam Frigates. 

ALL the vessels of the early steam period of our navy have now 
been described with the exception of the John Hancock, a 
small screw-steamer of 208 tons, built at the Boston Navy Yard in 
1850, intended to serve the double purpose of a steam tug and 
water-boat for that station. Her length was 113 feet; breadth of 
beam, 22 feet; mean draft, 8 feet. The machinery was designed 
by Mr. Charles W. Oopeland and built at the Washington Navy 
Yard by Mr. William M. Ellis, the civilian chief engineer of the 
yard. There were two oscillating non-condensing cylinders, 20 
inches in diameter and 21 inches stroke, suspended over the shaft, 
and one iron return-flue boiler, 22 feet long, containing 28 square 
feet of grate surface and 755 square feet of heating surface. The 
cost of the vessel was $20,550.72, of which sum $5,622.59 was 
charged to the engine and propeller, and $2,428.13 to the boiler 
and fittings. In 1851 the Simcooh was used as a practice steamer 
for midshipmen at the Naval Academy, and later in the same year 
made a short cruise to the Gulf of Mexico. 

In 1852 she was hauled into a ship-house at the Boston Navy 
Yard and remodeled, being cut in two and lengthened 38 feet, the 
change resulting in a trim bark-rigged steamer rated as of 382 tons 
burden. The engines were altered to low-pressure, with Pirsson's 
condenser, the stroke of pistons increased three inches, and the 
boiler replaced by two of the Martin vertical water-tube type, 
aggregating 70 square feet of grate surface and 2,280 square feet of 


heating surface. The alterations in machinery were made by Har- 
rison Loring, Boston, from plans supplied by Chief Engineer D. 
B. Martin, U. S. Navy. When completed, the new steamer pro- 
ceeded to the Pacific Ocean and was employed for about three yeara 
on surveying duty in the North Pacific, Bering and China seas, 
under the command of Lieutenant John Eodgers, Messrs. Elbridge 
Lawton and David B. Macomb being the senior engineers. After 
making a survey of Bering Sea the John Hancock was put out of 
commission at San Francisco and remained there as a receiving 
ship or in ordinary until 1865, when she was sold. 

Reference has already been made to the fact that advocates 
of steam power for naval purposes were compelled to face a most 
discouraging argument based upon the unprotected condition of 
machinery in paddle-wheel steamers. Ericsson had proved with 
the Princeton that a ship could be driven by a submerged propel- 
ler, but his application of power was new, at least to the navy, and 
it was many years before the lesson of the Princeton was accepted 
by naval officers as conclusive. The Secretary of the Navy, Mr. 
Dobbin, had become thoroughly impressed with the necessity for 
building up a steam navy, and in his annual report for 1853 made 
an urgent appeal to Congress for authority to begin the immediate 
construction of six " first-class steam frigate propellers," using the 
following argument in support of his request : 

" Steam is unquestionably the great agent to be used on the 
ocean, as well for purposes of war as of commerce. The improved 
system of screw-propellers, instead of side- wheels, is one of the 
grand desiderata to render the use of steam effective in naval war- 
fare — the one being exposed to the shot of the enemy, the other 
submerged and comparatively secure. When the bayonet was 
added to the musket the invention was applauded, for placing in 
the hands of the soldier, at one time, two engines of destruction/ 
and the introduction of the screw-propeller has been similarly appre- 
ciated, as combining, without confusion, two elements of progress — 
the sail and the steam-engine. Side-wheel steamers are much im- 
paired in their capacity for sailing, and consume too much coal for 
distant cruises. Those now on hand can be made to answer well 
for short cruises and for despatch vessels. The screw-propeller, 
being upon a principle not so much interfering with the sailing 











t- 1 









capacity, with the improved models of the present day, can be ao 
constructed as to sail as well as the best clipper ships, and reserve 
the use of steam for emergencies when the greatest speed is re- 
quired, or when, in a calm, a desirable position can be more 
promptly and surely taken. The great necessary expense incident 
to the expedition to Japan could have been materially, indeed, one- 
half curtailed, had it been in the power of the department to have 
supplied the squadron with screw-propellers instead of the side- 
wheel steamers, now costing so much from the consumption of 

In the same year, 1853, Mr. Dobbin had already begun one 
Bcrew frigate by using his authority to repair old vessels, the one 
selected being the old ship-of-the-line Franklin, lying at the Kit- 
tery Navy Yard. Orders were issued to repair this ship and make 
such changes in her model as would fit her for a first-class steam 
frigate. The old ship Franklin was built in 1815 at Philadelphia, 
and was 188 feet long and 50 feet beam. The new FrankUn, as 
finished, was 265 feet long on the load water-line, and 53 feet 8 
inches beam, dimensions so entirely different from those of the 
original ship that the process of repairing evidently amounted in 
reality to building an entirely new hull out of the old material. As 
the amount of money available each year for repairs was small, 
work on the Franklin progressed slowly, and it was ten years be- 
fore the condition of the hull warranted a contract for machinery, 
which will be described later in proper chronological order. 

The recommendation of the department regarding steam frig- 
ates was favorably received by Congress, and a few months later 
an act, approved April 6, 1854, authorized the Secretary of the 
Navy to have constructed " six first-class steam frigates to be pro- 
vided with screw propellers. " These ships were all built by the 
Government at navy yards as follows : The Merrirnac at Boston; 
the Wabash at Philadelphia; the Minnesota at Washington; the 
Roanoke and Colorado at Norfolk, and the Niagara at New York. 
The three first named were launched in 1855 and the three others 
early in 1856, they being, when completed, the superiors of any 
war vessels then possessed by any nation in the world. When the 
first of them went abroad they became objects of admiration and 
envy to the naval architects of Europe, and their type was quickly 


copied into other navies, notably that of England, which imitated 
their construction in the Orlando, Mersey, and others of that class. 

Just at that period the American ship-building industry had 
reached its highest development; our architects had attained a skill 
in their profession which made their work famous throughout the 
world, and lent to the word American, when applied to ships, a 
peculiar significance, always an accepted guarantee of excellence. 
Some of the most eminent of the American ship- builders were 
members of the naval construction corps, which then included such 
men as Mr. Lenthal, the chief constructor of the navy; the two 
Delanos; Messrs. Pook and Hanscom, and several others, all 
famous in their line. To these gentlemen the navy was indebted 
for the designs which made our new ships the admiration of the 
world, and so elevated the standard and reputation of the American 
navy that every officer and man felt an accession of pride at being 
part of such an organization. 

The first five of the ships named were frigate-built, with steam 
power that was merely auxiliary. They were full ship-rigged, the 
area of the ten principal sails being about thirty-two times the im- 
mersed midship section, which ratio is only slightly less than that 
observed in the practice of rigging sailing frigates. They were built 
of seasoned live-oak frames in stock in the navy yards and originally 
intended for use in old style sailing ships, an adaptation of material 
that exercised a controlling influence on the lines of the new ships 
from the necessity of so shaping them that the supply of frame tim- 
bers could be worked up without waste. The results, however, were 
entirely satisfactory as the ships proved to be fast and handy under 
sail alone, and their steam power was sufficient for the purpose in- 
tended — to steam in and out of port or across calm belts, and to lend 
additional manceuvering qualities in storms and battle. 1 

'Speaking of the building of these ships, the late Rear Admiral Edward Simp- 
son, in an article published in Harper's Magazine, June, 1886, says: "There were 
those at that time who, wise beyond their generation, recognized the full meaning of 
the advent of steam, and saw that it must supplant sails altogether as a motive 
power for ships. These advocated that new constructions should be provided with 
full steam-power, with sails as an auxiliary; but the old pride in the sailing ship, 
with her taut and graceful spars, could not be made to yield at onoe to the innovation; 
old traditions pointing to the necessity of full sail-power could not be dispelled; it was 
considered a sufficient concession to admit steam on any terms, and thus the conser- 
vative and temporizing course was adopted of retaining^full sail-power, and utilizing 
steam as an auxiliary." 



































— * 















































Of these vessels the Merrimack (or Merrimac, as the name is 
usually spelled), was the type, the others being only slight modifi- 
cations of the original. The Wabash and Minnesota differed only 
from the Merrimac in having a few feet more length inserted amid- 
ships to give additional space for machinery and fuel, while the 
Roanoke and Colorado^ exact duplicates of each other, differed from 
the others mainly in having about one foot more beam. The follow- 
ing table shows the principal dimensions of these frigates as origi- 
nally built, from which the points of difference may be readily traced: 







264. 8 J 

263. 8£ 










Length on load water line, feet 
and inches... 

Beam on same 

Area of immersed midship sec- 
tion, square feet. 

Displacement at load water line, 


263. 8* 



The Merrimac had two horizontal back-acting engines, the cyl- 
inders being on opposite sides of the ship and located at diagonally 
opposite corners of a rectangle circumscribing the engines, the jet 
condenser, air pump and hot- well of one cylinder being by the side 
of the other cylinder, the two piston rods of each cylinder striding 
the crank shaft. The cylinders were 72 inches in diameter by 3 feet 
stroke of piston and were designed to make about 45 double strokes 
per minute. A three-ported slide valve placed horizontally on top 
of the cylinder and actuated by a rock-shaft was used, expansion 
being obtained by the use of an independent cut-off valve of the 
gridiron type. There were four 4-furnace Martin's vertical water- 
tube boilers of iron, except the tubes which were brass; the grate 
surface of all boilers was 333. 5 square feet and total heating surface 
12,537 square feet. The single smoke-pipe was 8 feet in diameter, 
telescopic to avoid spoiling the appearance of the ship while in port, 
and stood 65 feet above the grate bars. Each boiler had a system 
of brass tubes underneath for a feed-water heater, the feed water be- 
ing pumped through the tubes which were kept hot by the supersalted 


water being constantly blown off to keep down the saturation, ac- 
cording to the practice of those days. The propeller was a two- 
bladed Griffith's screw of bronze with spherical hub and blades, ad- 
justable to different pitches, the mean pitch being 25 feet, and di- 
ameter of the screw 17 feet 4 inches. This machinery was designed 
by the contractor, Mr. Eobert P. Parrot and built at his works at 
Cold Springs, New York, under the inspection of Chief Engineer 
Wm. H. Shock, TJ. S. Navy, who subsequently superintended its 
erection on board the vessel at Boston. 

The maximum performance of the Men'vmao in smooth water 
under steam alone is shown by the following figures: 

Speed in knots per hour 8.87 

Revolutions of screw per minute 46. 7 

Steam cut off in fraction of stroke 0.3 

Steam pressure in boilers in pounds above atmos- 
phere 13.5 

Vacuum (mean) in inches of mercury 24. 5 

Total horse-power developed by engines 1,294.4 

Pounds of coal per hour by square foot of grate.. 12.74 

Pounds of coal per hour per horse-power 3.28 

An abstract of the log of the Merrvmac when under steam 
alone and in all conditions of wind and weather shows an average 
Bpeed of 5.25 knots; 36.5 revolutions per minute; 12.8 average 
Bteam pressure; 20.4 average vacuum, and a consumption of 3,400 
pounds of anthracite coal per hour. A similar set of averages under 
steam and sail combined shows 7.67 knots; 39.3 revolutions; 12.5 
steam pressure; 21 inches of vacuum, and 3,392 pounds of coal per 

The Merrvmac was put in commission in December, 1855, 
under the command of Captain F. H. Gregory, Mr. Shock being the 
chief engineer, and for a few months was on special duty on the 
home coast, going later to Europe where she visited Southampton, 
Brest, Lisbon, Toulon, and other naval stations, exciting every- 
where the admiration of naval experts, for she is said to have been 
the most beautiful of all the ships of her class. In 1857 she went 
to the Pacific as the flagship and remained on that station until 


1860, her chief engineer being first Mr. E. H. Long and afterward 
Mr. Alban 0. Stimers. In 1860 she returned home and was laid 
up at the Norfolk navy yard for extensive repairs to her machinery, 
which was very unsatisfactory. Mr. Charles H. Loring, engineer- 
in-chief of the navy a few years since, who was the first assistant 
engineer of the Merrimac during the whole period of her service, has 
written the author regarding her machinery, that the steam log books 
of the cruise. " contained a record of efforts to overcome inherent 
defects of design, and of experimental work in different directions, 
that would be interesting even now, despite its being very ancient 
history. ' ' The arrival of this ship at Norfolk concluded her active 
career in the United States navy; later chapters dealing with the 
Civil War will relate the circumstances of her loss to the govern- 
ment, and her career in the hands of her captors. 

The Wabash had two horizontal condensing cylinders 72 inches 
in diameter by 3 feet stroke, motion being communicated from the 
piston rods to the crank by means of a yoke or harp, the once pop- 
ular steeple-engine form of connection; the piston rods were secur- 
ed to the large end of the harp, from the opposite, or small end of 
which the connecting rod reached backward, the crank revolving 
inside the larger part of the harp, the bottom of the large end of 
the harp was fitted with a shoe which rode back and forth on a 
guide-plate. A jet condenser was employed. The steam valves, 
operated by a Stevenson link from a rock shaft, were flat slide 
valves with independent cut-off valves on the back of each; these 
latter were operated by separate eccentrics and consisted in each 
case of two blocks or plates adjustable by right and left hand screws, 
being in short, the well-known Meyer expansion valve, which from 
this application of it came to be generally known in our navy as the 
' ' Wabash valve. ' ' The boilers were the same in number and type 
as those of the M&rrimao, differing slightly in outside dimensions 
but containing five furnaces instead of four, the grate area of each 
furnace being proportionately smaller and the total grate area 
practically the same. The same type of feed- water heater was used. 
The propeller was a two-bladed true screw of brass, 17 feet £ inches 
in diameter and 23 feet pitch, made to disconnect and hoist up in a 
well in the stern. This machinery was built by Merrick & Sons, 
Philadelphia, from their own designs and was superintended while 
under construction by Chief Engineer James W King, U. S. Navy. 



The Wabash was first commissioned in August, 1856, and 
served as the flagship of Commodore Hiram Paulding on the home 
station for about two years, then going to the Mediterranean with 
the flag of Commodore Lavallette, Mr. King being the first chief' 
engineer and Benjamin F. Garvin the second. She returned home 
in 1859 and remained in ordinary until the outbreak of the Civil 
War, when she was put in commission and saw much active service, 
as outlined in the appendix. 

The Minnesota's engines were built at the Washington Navy 
Yard from designs prepared by Engineer-in-Chief D. B. Martin, 
and furnish a third example of the engine practice of that day. 
There were two horizontal cylinders of the Penn trunk type, 79£ 
inches in diameter and 3 feet stroke, the trunks being 33 inches in 
diameter. Unlike the usual Penn design, these engines had a sep- 
arate slide valve for the cut-off valve, placed in advance of the 
main steam valve and working upon a fixed seat of its own. The 
steam valves were ordinary double-ported slides operated by link 
motion and located on the sides of the cylinders with faces vertical, 
while the cut-off valves were above them and horizontal, thus en- 
tailing the disadvantage of leaving a considerable space filled with 
steam after the cut-offs had closed. The boilers were in all respects 
duplicates of the Martin boilers described in the case of the Merri- 
mac, and the propeller was exactly the same as that of the Wabash. 
The first service of the Minnesota was on the East India station in 
1857-58 and '59 under the command of Captain S. DuPont, the 
Mississippi being the flagship of that squadron at the time. 

The engines, boilers and screws of the Roanoke and Colorado 
were in all respects the precise duplicates of those of the Minnesota, 
the machinery complete for both ships being built by Anderson, 
Dulany & Co. , (Tredegar Iron Works), Richmond, Virginia, under 
the superintendence of Chief Engineer W. W. W. Wood, U. S. 
Navy. The Colorado was prepared for sea when completed in 
1857, but did very little service besides steaming to Boston, where 
she was laid up, before the beginning of the war. The Roanoke 
was flagship of the home squadron in 1858, 1859, and the first 
months of 1860, then being put out of commission and laid up until 
the war made her services again necessary. A dearth of enlisted 
men, and the increased cost of maintaining the steam frigates in 

Q a 

W a 

^ J* 

a 9= 



comparison with the cost of keeping sailing frigates in commission, 
were the reasons for the non-employment" of these fine ships. 

The Niagara is generally spoken of as a frigate, having been 
associated in building with the Merrvmac class, but was in fact an 
exceedingly large sloop-of-war and not a frigate at all. The idea 
of speed was entertained in her case, and Mr. George Steers, an 
eminent ship-builder of New York, who had acquired fame as a de- 
signer of swift clipper-ships and yachts 1 was called upon for pro- 
fessional aid. Mr. Steers was given a temporary appointment as 
naval constructor, and during the two years he held that office he 
designed the Niagara and superintended her construction in the 
New York Navy Yard. The hull was designed with very sharp 
lines for speed, and her constructor was not restricted by any at- 
tempt to accommodate her model to the shape of frame timbers on 
hand; speed under sail was the primary quality sought, but speed 
under steam was not neglected, about fifty per cent, more power 
being provided than in the case of frigates. The dimensions of the 
vessel were unusually large for the time, length on the load water- 
line being 328 feet 10^ inches; breadth at same, 55 feet; displace- 
ment, 5,540 tons, and registered tonnage (old measurement), 4,580. 

The Niagara's engines consisted of three horizontal direct- 
acting cylinders 72 inches in diameter and 3 feet stroke, fitted with 
independent gridiron slide cut-off valves and jet condensers. The 
boilers were of the Martin type, the same as used in the five frig- 
ates, but were considerably larger, having six furnaces each and 
about fifty per cent, more grate and heating surface. No heating 
apparatus for feed-water was supplied. There were two telescopic 
smoke-pipes, and the propeller was of the same hoisting type used 
on the frigates. The machinery was designed and built by Pease 
& Murphy (Fulton Iron Works), New York, its construction being 
under the direction of Chief Engineer William H. Everett, who also 
had charge of the work of installing it in the vessel. The maximum 
speed in smooth water under steam alone was found to be 10.9 
knots, and the average sea speed under steam and sail with varying 
conditions of weather, was 8. 5 knots. 

1 Mr. Steers designed and built the famous yacht America, which won the 
Queen's cup in the regatta at Cowes, England, in 1851. 


The Niagara was put in commission in the spring of 1857 
under command of Captain Hudson, Mr. Everett being her chief 
engineer, and proceeded to England in April to undertake the work 
of laying the first Atlantic cable. One-half the cable (about 1,250 
miles) was put in the hold of the Niagara and the other half in H. 
M. S. Agamemnon, the two ships leaving Valencia, Ireland, Aug- 
ust 7th, 1857, the Niagara paying out her part of the cable. The 
IT. S. S. Susquehanna accompanied the expedition to lend assistance 
if needed. Four days after leaving Ireland the cable broke through 
defects in the paying-out machinery and the enterprise was aban- 
doned for that year, the Niagara returning home. Chief Engineer 
Everett had detected the faults in the cable machinery and submitted 
plans to remedy them which were considered so excellent that at the 
request of the cable company he was detached from the Niagara 
and granted leave of absence with permission to go to England to 
direct the construction of the mechanism proposed by him. In 
March, 1858, the Niagara returned to England and with the 
Agamemnon proceeded to the middle of the ocean, from whence 
each vessel started homeward, each paying out her section of the 
cable, Mr. Everett in his capacity of superintendent for the 
cable company directing the work from the Niagara. After a 
delay of about a month occasioned by a break in the Agamemnon's 
section three days after the work was begun, the ships had no 
further trouble and landed their ends of the cable successfully, the 
Niagara at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, and the Agamemnon at 
Valencia, Ireland. 

The engineers of the Niagara on this noteworthy voyage were, 
Joshua Follansbee, chief; John Faron and fm. S. Stamm, first 
assistants; George K. Johnson and Mortimer Kellogg, second as- 
sistants, and Jackson McElmell, George F. Kutz, and Wm. G. 
Buehler, third assistants. They all received gold medals from the 
Chamber of Commerce of the city of New York in commemoration 
of the event. Chief Engineer Wm. H. Everett, whose genius made 
the undertaking successful, is said to have received $25,000 from 
the cable company for his services. After operating for two weeks 
and transmitting about four hundred messages, the cable ceased 
working on account of defective insulation, and was not replaced 
until 1866 when a much larger and better made cable was laid by 


the Great Eastern, that vessel having failed in an attempt the year 
before. After laying the cable in 1858 the Niagara spent the re- 
mainder of that year in a task which was neither agreeable or 
glorious. To meet a demand of public sentiment she was freighted 
with nearly three hundred destitute and savage negroes, who had 
been taken from a slaver named the Echo off the coast of Cuba, 
and transported them to Liberia on the west coast of Africa. Many 
•of the negroes died on the voyage and the whole experience with 
them was intensely distasteful, and disagreeable. 

In 1860 the Niagara conveyed to Japan by way of the Cape of 
Good Hope the embassy which had been sent to the United States 
by the Sho-gun of that country. The Civil War brought her home 
the next year and after undergoing extensive repairs she was sent on 
special service to Europe, her great size rendering her unfit for 
hostile operations along the insurgent coasts. The capture of the 
Confederate privateer Georgia in August, 1864, and refusing battle 
with the iron-clad ram Stonewall off the port of Coruna in April, 
1865, were the chief incidents of this cruise, which was the Niaga- 
ra's last. At the close of the war she was laid up in Boston 
and remained there until condemned and sold in 1885. In 1871-'72 
the work of remodeling and repairing her was prosecuted for a time, 
but eventually abandoned. 

A resolution of Congress, approved February 3, 1855, author- 
ized the Secretary of the Navy " to provide and despatch a suitable 
naval, or other steamer, and, if necessary, a tender, to the Arctic 
seas for the purpose of rescuing or affording relief to Passed Assist- 
ant Surgeon E. K. Kane, of the United States Navy, and the officers 
and men under his command." This resolution added one small 
vessel to the steam navy, the Arctic, purchased in 1855 and which 
rendered most efficient service and made the relief expedition suc- 
cessful through her ability as a steamer to " bore " through the ice- 
pack of Baffin's Bay. Lieutenant H. J. Hartstene in the bark He- 
lease commanded the expedition and succeeded after many trials and 
hardships in finding Dr. Kane and brought him and his party safely 
home. The officers volunteered for this service from the navy 
that being a requirement imposed by the congressional resolution, 
the only one now believed to be living, being Rear Admiral Joseph 
Fyffe, 1 who was a passed midshipman in the Release. First Assist- 

1 Since deceased. 


ant Engineer Harman Newell and Acting Third Assistant Engineer 
Wm, Johnson went in the Arctic. In 1859 the Arctic's machinery- 
was removed and the hall transferred to the light honse board for 
a light-ship. 

In the year 1855 also a somewhat larger screw steamer, the 
Despatch was purchased and sent to the Pensacola navy yard as a 
tender for that station, her tonnage being 558 and cost $139,088.17. 
In 1859 she was rebuilt at the Norfolk navy yard and enlarged to 
694 tons, the name being at that time changed to Pocahontas, under 
which she performed much valuable service during the rebellion. 

By an act of Congress approved March 3, 1857, authority was 
given for the immediate construction of five large screw sloops-of- 
war, the general size or class of the vessels being specified by the 
act. Four of them were at once placed under construction as fol- 
lows: The Pensacola at Pensacola; the Lancaster at Philadelphia; 
the Hartford at Boston ; and the Richmond at Norfolk. In order to 
incite a healthful rivalry between the naval constructors and civilian 
ship-builders it was decided to commit the building of the fifth sloop 
wholly to private enterprise, and advertisements were accordingly 
issued for competitive plans and specifications. Thirteen proposals 
were received in response, from which a board of officers selected 
the one submitted by Mr. Jacob Westervelt of New York, to whom 
a contract was awarded. The vessel thus brought into existence 
was the Brooklyn, the hull of which was built by Mr. Westervelt 
under the superintendence of Naval Constructor S. H. Pook, and 
the machinery by sub-contract by the Fulton Iron Works, superin- 
tended by Chief Engineer D. B. Martin, U. S. Navy. 

Mr. Martin was the engineer- in-chief of the navy for a full term 
of four years beginning October 18, 1853, and was known as a 
thoroughly capable and painstaking engineer, familiar with the 
many branches of his calling so far as they were developed in his 
time. He was the inventor of the vertical water-tube boiler which 
for many years was the type of excellence in marine boiler work 
and was an improvement over the flue boilers that immed- 
iately preceded it. After being succeeded at the expiration of hia 
term of office as engineer-in-chief by Chief Engineer Samuel Arch- 
bold, Mr. Martin performed duty as inspector of machinery for the 
Brooklyn, and as general inspector for some smaller sloops built 

Chief engineer daniel b. martin, u. s. navy; 
Engineer-in Chief of the Navy from October 18, 1853, to October 17, 1857. 


later, as well as serving on boards for the selection of types of new 
vessels authorized. He resigned from the service in 1859 and, like 
many other men who have occupied important public offices, ex- 
pressed his weariness with the thankless world's work by returning 
to his native place and taking up the peaceful occupation of farmer. 
The Brooklyn was 233 feet long on the load water line; 43 
feet beam; 2,686 tons displacement, and of 2,070 tons burden. Her 
machinery consisted of two horizontal direct-acting cylinders 61 
inches in diameter by 33 inches stroke. The steam valve was a 
three-ported slide fitted with the Meyer cut-off blocks on its back. 
A jet condenser was used. There were two Martin boilers with 
seven furnaces each, aggregating 250 square feet of grate surface 
and 7,788 square feet of heating surface, fitted with one telescopic 
smoke-pipe 7 feet in diameter and 50 feet high above the grate bars. 
The propeller was a two-bladed hoisting screw, 14^ feet in diameter 
and 24. 7 feet mean pitch. The total weight of machinery was 240 
tons and of water in boilers, 64 tons. The vessel was completed in 
little more than a year after the date of contract and exhibited a 
speed of 9.2 knots under steam alone in smooth water, with 51 rev- 
olutions of the screw, 18 pounds steam pressure, 27 inches of 
vacuum, 878 developed horse-power, and 3.2 pounds of anthracite 
coal consumed per hour, per horse power. Her first service was in 
the home squadron in 1859-'60,'61. 

The Hartford, built at the Boston Navy Yard, was slightly 
smaller than the Brooklyn, her principal factors being length, 225 
feet; beam, 44 feet; tonnage (old) 1,900, and displacement, 2,550. 
Her machinery was built by Loring & Coney, Boston, under the 
supervision of Chief Engineer Jesse Gay, U. S. Navy, and con- 
sisted of a direct-acting two-cylinder jet condensing engine with 
cylinders 62 inches in diameter by 34 inches stroke, and two Mar- 
tin boilers with 253 square feet of grate surface and 7,600 square 
feet of heating surface. The screw was of bronze, two-bladed, 14 
feet diameter and 25 feet pitch. This was replaced in 1880 by a 
more efficient four-bladed screw and the original one diverted to a 
lasting and appropriate use by being melted and cast into the statue 
of Admiral Farragut, which stands in Farragut Square, Washington, 
D. C. The Hartford was launched early in 1859 and commissioned 
for sea the following summer, going to the East India station to re- 


lieve the Mississippi as flagship. Her maximum speed under steam 
alone in smooth water was found to be 9.5 knots, an average sea 
performance with sail and steam, 7.3 knots. In 1880 the Hartford 
was fitted with new machinery, the engines put in being a pair of 
the 60"x36" Isherwood engines built by Harrison Loring during the 
war for a sloop that was never finished — the Kewaydin. 

The Lancaster was the largest of the ships of her class, being 
235 feet 8 inches long, 46 feet beam, 3,290 tons displacement, and 
2,362 registered tonnage. Her machinery was built by Reanie & 
Neafie, Philadelphia, Under the inspection of Chief Engineer W. 
W. W. Wood, the engines and attachments being exactly like those 
for the Brooklyn. The boilers were of the same type, but about 
twelve per cent, larger in grate and heating surface than those of 
the Brooklyn. The contract price for the Lancaster's machinery 
complete, was $137,500. Like the Sort ford, she was eventually 
fitted with a pair.of the 60"x36" Isherwood engines, built during the 
war. In 1879-80 the hull was thoroughly overhauled and remod- 
eled with a ram-bow, making her a formidable appearing craft for 
our navy at that time. The Lancaster was launched in 1858 and 
went the following year to the Pacific station, where she remained 
as flagship until 1867, thus being deprived of an active part in the 
Civil War, in which her sister ships achieved so much glory. 

The Richmond was built at the Norfolk Navy Yard and her ma- 
chinery at the Washington Navy Yard, the latter being designed by 
Mr. Archbold, the engineer-in- chief. The principal dimensions of 
the vessel were: Length, 225 feet; beam, 42 feet; displacement, 
2,604 tons, and registered tonnage 1,929. The machinery con- 
sisted of a two- cylinder direct- acting engine with cylinders 58 inches 
in diameter and 36 inches stroke of piston, fitted with single poppet 
valves and Sickles' cut-offs. The use of the poppet valves was 
forced upon the department by the political influence of two civilians 
who at that time had a contract for directing the construction of 
machinery for the Pensacola, and was found to be decidedly harm- 
ful to the efficiency of the ship. Much of the lighter engine work, 
pipe fittings, attachments, etc. , was done at the Norfolk Navy Yard, 
but all the heavy work was done at Washington. In 1866, as soon 
as she could be spared from active service, the Richmond was fitted 
with a pair of the 60 vv x36" Isherwood engines built expressly for her 





at the Washington Navy Yard during the three preceding years. 
The Richmond was not launched until 1860, and in the latter part 
of that year went to the Mediterranean as flagship of the station; 
recalled by the outbreak of the rebellion the next year, she joined 
the West Gulf blockading squadron, and was a conspicuous factor 
in the varied operations which made Farragut famous. 

The last of these five ships, the Pensacola, brought into the 
field of naval contention a new and unique character in the person 
of Mr. Edward N. Dickerson, who made the engineering life of the 
Navy Department exceedingly interesting for a number of years and 
enriched the annals of.seientific experiment not a little, by injecting 
an element of novelty and humor into otherwise dry and technical 
matters. The Pensacola was built at the navy yard, Pensacola, 
Florida, and was 230 feet 8 inches in length; 44 feet 6 inches beam; 
3,000 tons displacement, and 2,158 measured tonnage. Her greater 
displacement than the other ships of practically the same dimensions 
was due to the fact, that the machinery as originally installed 
weighed 540 tons, while that of the Hartford weighed only 200 
tons, and of the larger Lancaster 246£ tons. This machinery was 
built at the Washington Navy Yard by the Government from the 
designs, and under the supervision of two civilians, Messrs. Sickles 
and Dickerson. 

Mr. Frederick E. Sickles was an inventor and engineer of 
ability and experience; he was the inventor of a cut-off mechanism 
for poppet valves, and at this time was engaged in fitting his patent 
to the engines of the Hichmond, as previously mentioned. Mr. 
Dickerson was a New Yprk lawyer who had become acquainted 
with Sickles through patent suits and from gaining a smattering of 
mechanical matters had become an enthusiast on the subject, enter- 
ing into the study of engineering with all the zeal aDd blindness of 
a new convert. He appears to have become enamored of Mariotte's 
law regarding the relationship of volumes, pressures, and tempera- 
tures of gases, and from his faith in the infallibility of that law 
under all conditions came to the conclusion that his mission upon 
earth was to reform the engineering practices of the time, in which, 
as now, owing to material difficulties, the law of Mariotte when 
applied to the steam engine did not display its theoretical perfec- 
tion. Mr. Dickerson is described as a man of graceful manners 


and appearance, and a mest eloquent and persuasive speaker, capa- 
ble of convincing almost anyone of the soundness of his theories. 1 

Having entered into partnership with Sickels, the new firm 
proposed to the Navy Department to design machinery for one of 
the new ships which would ' ' produce the highest possible effect 
from a given amount of fuel, and with the least possible weight." 
The plans suggested were regarded by all engineers as very faulty 
and Mr. Toucey, the Secretary of the Navy himself, saw their im- 
practicability. Engineer-in- Chief Martin and his successor, Mr. 
Archbold, both strenuously opposed the proposition, as did also en- 
gineers generally in the Navy and in civil life. Mr. Dickerson, 
however, was intimately connected socially and politically with Mr. 
Mallory of Florida, , then Chairman of the Senate Committee on na- 
val affairs, and with Senator Yulee of the same state and a promi- 
nent member of the same Committee, through whose political influ- 
ence, exerted with great energy, Mr. Dickerson eventually obtained 
the sought for contract. The opposition of the Secretary was over- 
borne and he most unwillingly signed it. The date of this contract 
was April 3, 1858; by its terms Sickels and Dickerson agreed to de- 
sign and superintend the building of the Pensacola's machinery and 
allow the Government to use their patents. 

The drawings furnished by them are still on file in the Bureau 
of Steam Engineering, Navy Department, and exhibit by their bril- 
liant coloring and crudeness of execution their amateur origin. Mr. 
Sickels apparently had allowed his good engineering sense to lie 
dormant and permitted his enthusiastic partner to revel unchecked 
in mechanical movements and designs. Cams, ratchets, bell-cranks, 
combination levers, etc., appear in profusion for the performance 
of the simplest functions, seemingly introduced for the purpose of 
indicating knowledge of mechanical motions rather than from any 
necessity of using them. The peculiarities of the machinery thus 
designed may be generally stated as follows: 

1 As a patent lawyer Mr. Dickerson eDjoyed a national reputation. In 1855 
he was oounsel for McCormick before the Supreme Court of the United States in the 
great suit involving the question of infringement of patents on harvesting machin- 
ery. Associated with him in this famous case were William H. Seward and Keverdy 
Johnson, while the opposing counsel were Abraham Lincoln, Edwin M. Stanton and 
George Harding. 


1. The use of large cylinders to work steam with a large meas- 
ure of expansion. 

2. The use of a peculiar condensing apparatus. 

3. The use of an air tight fire-room. 

4. The use of small boilers in proportion to the cylinders. 
Four steam cylinders 58 inches in diameter and 3 feet stroke of 

piston were arranged in pairs on opposite sides of the ship, the cyl- 
inders being jacketed with steam belts 4^ inches in depth. The 
cylinders were directly opposite each other, but instead of two 
cranks, as was possible by the arrangement, the designer complica- 
ted matters by having «ia>,in order to effect which, two of the con- 
necting rods were made with forked ends to stride the crank of the 
opposite cylinder, each arm of the fork grasping a crank of its own. 
The intoxicating effect of this thing when in motion may be easily 
imagined. The four cylinders with their connections and gear made 
the engine plant of the Pemacola practically double in weight that 
of the other sloops, a fact that did not require an engineer to detect, 
and was fatal to the claim of the designers of minimizing weights. 
Two surface condensers with very small circulating pumps were sup- 
plied, the main dependence for effecting the circulation of water be- 
ing scoops projecting from the ship's bottom, on the theory that the 
remarkable speed of the ship would drive water through the condensers, 
as is now done in practice on swift torpedo boats. The idea of the 
air-tight fire-room was not bad, but as the blowers were originally 
connected it was shown by experiment with a lamp that the air 
pressure obtained was actually negative, the flame of the lamp draw- 
ing inward from an open air-lock instead of being blown outward 
by the pressure within. Under this state of affairs the heat of the 
fire-room was so intolerable that men could not remain in it for any 
length of time. Two small 5-furnace horizontal fire-tube boilers 
and two 1-furnace auxiliary boilers of the same type were supplied^ 
the total grate surface being 234 square feet and heating surface 
about 7000. Sickels' cut-off gear was of course used, the valves be- 
ing set to cut off very early in the stroke, leaving Mariotte's law to 
do the rest. With this valve gear applied to steam and exhaust 
valves at each end of each cylinder, there was an array of lifting rods 
and dash-pots, decidedly bewildering. 

The requirements of the department called for a 2-bladed hoist- 


ing screw of the type then in favor, and the designers projected such 
a screw with very fine pitch based upon a calculated engine speed of 
eighty revolutions per minute, but as the work progressed they lost 
faith in their calculations for speed and altered the screw by increas- 
ing its pitch to conform to forty revolutions per minute. This con- 
fronted them with a new and unexpected problem, for a correspond- 
ing increase in the surface of the screw followed as a necessity, to 
effect which the diameter was increased about four feet and four 
blades substituted for two. This destroyed the hoisting feature of 
the screw and necessitated throwing away all the costly brass cast- 
ings for the hoisting apparatus, as well as the two-bladed screw al- 
ready made. The hull had to be docked to alter the stern and deep- 
en the keel to accomodate the new screw, and the ship's draft ac- 
cordingly increased. This one blunder cost about $20,000, and is 
only one example of manj, illustrative of what may be called 
the piece-meal manner in which the designing and fitting together 
of the different parts of the machinery was conducted. The result 
was, that when the machinery was at last pronounced ready for trial 

it had cost $308,460, or more than twice as much as that of any 
other ship of the Pensaoola class. 

Progressing in this tentative manner the work was necessarily 
slow and sometimes came to a complete standstill for lack of knowl- 
edge as to what to do next. The other ships of the class were com- 
pleted and in service, the Civil War began, and still the Pensaoola 
was unfinished ; so slow and uncertain did the work progress that the 
designers were finally suspected of disloyalty and Mr. Sickels, who 
had charge of installing the machinery, was actually put under guard 
and not allowed to leave the vessel or his work. Finally Mr. Ed- 
ward Faron, who had once been an engineer in the navy, was em- 
ployed and put in charge of the work, his energy resulting in its 
completion and a trial trip on the Potomac the 3d of January, 1862. 
On this trial a maximum speed of 8.8 geographical miles per hour 
was developed, this costing five pounds of coal per horse power, or 
about 25 per cent, more than the Hartford or Lancaster, while the 
speed was 0.7 miles less. 

The Pensacola was sent at once to join Farragut's fleet off the 
mouth of the Mississippi and arrived there in the course of time, af" 
ter having been ashore for ten days on one of the Florida Keys,her 


machinery, and engineers as well, being in a condition of semi-col- 
lapse when she got in. She participated in the brilliant battle of 
the forts below New Orleans and the capture of that city in April, 
but was so uncertain under steam that she was thereafter used more 
as a floating battery than as a reliable cruising ship. In 1865 her en- 
tire machinery plant was taken out and replaced with new boilers 
and engines, the latter being a pair of the 60-inch Isherwood type 
built by Hazelhurst & Co., Baltimore, for a large sloop-of-war pro- 
jected but never built, the name of which was Wanalosett, 

Secession deprived Mr. Dickerson of his powerful Florida 
friends, but his persuasive eloquence about Washington had won 
him many more, with the support of whom he made himself a veri- 
table thorn in the side of Engineer-in- Chief Isherwood, as well as a 
source of much trouble for the Secretary of the Navy. In spite of 
the object lesson furnished by the costly failure of the Pensacola, 
Mr. Dickerson was able to get other opportunities to experiment with 
his theories at public expense until his engineering career terminated 
with the complete failure of one of the finest ships ever built in this 
or any other country — the Idaho. The opportunity to make a griev- 
ance out of the Pensacola affair was not neglected by Dickerson, 
who had sufficient influence to have the matter made a subject for 
congressional investigation, the record of which (EeportNo. 8, 38th 
Congress, second session) is highly creditable to the engineering 
branch of the navy, and totally lacking in elements vindicating its 

In 1864 Mr. Dickerson, as attorney in the case of Mattingly vs. 
the Washington and Alexandria Steamboat Company, had an oppor- 
tunity to address a jury in the supreme court of the District of Col- 
umbia, on which occasion he launched forth upon a decidedly 
scholarly speech which he entitled "The Navy of the United States. 
An Exposure of its condition, and the Causes of its Failure." As 
an example of eloquent invective this speech is worthy of classifica- 
tion with the famous oration of Catiline, and its author was so proud 
of it, and so confident of its destroying the reputation of his arch- 
enemy, Isherwood, that he caused it to be published in pamphlet 
form and distributed broadcast. It turned out however to be a case 
of one's enemy writing a book and getting the worst of it. Mr. 
Isherwood was altogether too busy with a multitude of official cares 


to give any heed to this furious attack upon him, and, indeed, it dis- 
turbed him very little, for he had been too long and too prominent 
in public life to be super-sensitive to criticism. There were other 
members of his corps who had more leisure and who were capable 
of detecting in the Mattingly speech an opportunity for amusement 
at the expense of the author, and there soon appeared an illustrated 
booklet entitled "Uncle Sam's Whistle, and What it Costs," deal- 
ing with Dickerson, the trial trip of the Pensacola, and the famous 
speech, in a most entertaining and amusing manner. In it Dicker- 
son and his theories were ridiculed so perfectly that instead of ap- 
pearing before the public as the purifier and reformer of the Navy 
Department, he found himself suddenly transformed into a laugh- 
ing-stock for the entire engineering and naval element of the 
country. The authorship of the book referred to, is somewhat in 
doubt; the caricatures and sketches were made by Second Assistant 
Engineer Robert Weir, and the text is generally credited to him, as 
he was equally handy with pen and pencil. At any rate, the little 
book was the most exquisite satire ever produced within the navy, 
and was entirely successful in its purpose of turning the tables upon 
the assailant of the head of the engineering branch of the service. 1 

In the annual report for 1857 the Secretary of the Navy re- 
ported progress on the five ships of the Richmond class and took 
occasion to say that they were too large for the performance of 
much of the service required of the navy on our own coasts, and 
especially in China. Ten steamers of ' ' light draft, great speed and 
heavy guns ' ' were recommended to meet the deficiency, to which 
Congress responded by an act approved June 12, 1858, authorizing 
the construction of seven screw- sloops and one side- wheel war 
steamer, the result of this legislation being the acquisition of a class 
of vessels whose names were familiar in the navy list for many 

The side-wheel steamer, of only 453 tons, was built at the new- 
ly established navy yard at Mare Island near San Francisco and was 
named Saginaw. The machinery was designed and built by the 
Union Iron Works of San Francisco under the supervision of Chief 
Engineer George Sewell, and consisted of a 2-cylinder oscillating 

1 See Appendix 0. 














engine with cylinders 39 inches in diameter by 48 inches stroke, and 
two 3-furnace Martin boilers aggregating 81 square feet of grate and 
2000 square feet of heating surface. The water wheels were 20 
feet in diameter with floats 6 feet in length. The Saginaw was com- 
pleted in about a year, and in the latter part of 1859 went to the 
China Station for her first service, remaining on that station until 
1862 when she returned to San Francisco. Thereafter she was con- 
stantly in commission attached to the Pacific squadron until October, 
1870, when she was wrecked on Ocean island. 

Of the seven screw sloops, four were specified to be of 13 feet 
draft when ready for service, and the other three of 10 feet draft. 
The following table exhibits the size, etc. , of the four larger sloops, 
as well as the navy yard where each was built: 







Where built. 










198'- 9" 
198'- 5" 
198'- 5" 


33'- 2" 
32'. 9" 

363 sq. ft. 
380 " " 
366 " " 
365 " " 

Kittery, Maine. 
New York. 
Norfolk, Va. 

The Mohican's machinery was built by Woodruff and Beach, 
Hartford, Conn., under the supervision of Chief Engineer D. B. 
Martin, and consisted of a 2-cylinder back-acting engine with 
cylinders 54 inches in diameter by 30 inches stroke, supplied with a 
Pirsson's condenser, and two Martin boilers. Pease & Murphy of 
New York built the machinery for the Iroquois, which was of the 
same type as that of the Mohican, the boilers being slightly smaller 
and the stroke of pistons 28 instead of 30 inches. The machinery 
for the Wyoming was by Merrick & Sons, Philadelphia, inspected 
by Chief Engineer Edward Whipple. The engines were direct- 
acting with two cylinders 50 inches in diameter by 30 inches stroke, 
and had a close surface condenser of Mr. Merrick's design. The 
boilers were of the same type but considerably smaller than those 
of either the Mohican or Iroquois. Murray & Hazlehurst of Balti- 
more built the machinery of the Dacotah, which was radically diff- 
erent from that of the other sloops. Two large direct-acting en- 


gines, 63 inches diameter by 36 inches stroke, drove a huge wooden- 
toothed gear wheel, which in turn drove > a pinion keyed to the pro- 
peller shaft, the speed ratio being as 9 to 4. The engines were 
designed for a speed of 36 revolutions per minute, or 81 of the 
screw, which was about the same as the direct speed of the other 
vessels. The boilers of the Dacotah, two in number, were of the 
horizontal return fire-tube variety, instead of the Martin type then 
so generally used. Chief Engineer H. H. Stewart was the superin- 
tendent of construction of this machinery. The four vessels were 
all completed and in service by the end of 1859, the Mohican being 
on the coast of Africa, the Iroquois in the Mediterranean, the Wy- 
oming in the Pacific, and the Dacotah on her way to join the Asiatic 
squadron. All of them showed a speed under steam alone in smooth 
water of about 11.5 knots per hour, and averaged 8 knots for gen- 
eral performance at sea. 

The three smaller sloops were the Narragansett, Seminole, and 
Pawnee, all good and appropriate American names, like most of the 
names bestowed upon our war vessels in those days. The Narra- 
gansett was of 1,235 tons displacement and was built at the Boston 
navy yard, the machinery being built by the Boston Locomotive 
Works. She had a pair of direct-acting engines with cylinders 48 
inches in diameter by 28 inches stroke of piston, driving a 4- 
bladed screw 12 feet in diameter. Pirsson's double-vacuum con- 
denser was used. The boilers, two in number, were of the usual 
Martin type, containing 200 square feet of grate surface and about 
6,150 square feet of heating surface. The Narragansett was com- 
pleted and in commission by the end of 1859, sailing shortly there- 
after for the Pacific station. 

The Seminole, built at the navy yard, Pensacola, Florida, was 
a sister-ship of the Narragansett and similar to her in all principal 
dimensions. Her machinery was built by the Morgan Iron Works, 
New York, and consisted of a pair of back-acting horizontal engines 
with cylinders 50 inches diameter by 30 inches stroke, and two 
Martin boilers slightly smaller than those of the Narragansett. The 
Seminole went to the Brazil station in 1860 and was recalled in 
1861 in time to take an active part in the battle of Port Royal in 
November of that year. Later she served in Farragut's West Gulf 
squadron and participated in the battle of Mobile Bay, going into 
action lashed alongside the Lackawanna. 



The third of these sloops, the Pawnee, differed much from the 
other two in the form of her hull and in the feature of having twin 
screws. She was built by the government at the Philadelphia 
navy yard, but from the designs and under the supervision of a 
civilian ship-builder, Mr. John W. Griffiths of New York, who held 
a temporary appointment as a naval constructor while directing this 
work. It had been determined to arm the Pawnee with four XI- 
inch Dahlgren guns, and it was to demonstrate that this could be 
done without exceeding the specified draft of ten feet that Mr. 
Griffiths was employed. The resulting vessel was considerably 
longer and broader than the others of her class and of somewhat 
less than ten feet draft when armed and equipped for service, a fact 
that made her of great use with her heavy battery in the shallow 
rivers of the southern coast during the war. Besides having to 
carry the unusually large battery, the engines to drive the two screws 


a, cylinder, b, condenser, c, master-wheel, d-d, screw-shaft pinions. 

were considerably heavier than in other vessels of the class, and 
this necessitated further calculation on the part of the constructor, 
who so modified the form of the hull that when the vessel was com- 
pleted her bottom was actually concave. 

The Pawnee was 221 feet 6 inches long; 47 feet beam; 1,533 
tons displacement and rated at 1,289 tons burden. Chief engineers 
Wm, W. W. Wood and E. H. Long superintended the building of 
the machinery at the works of Beanie & Neafie, Philadelphia, 
there being two horizontal direct- acting cylinders 65 inches in 



diameter by 36 inches stroke, driving a large gear wheel 7 feet 3 
inches in diameter, this driving two smaller wheels keyed to the 
two shafts, the small wheels or pinions being 2 feet 11 inches dia- 
meter of pitch circle. The master wheel was somewhat to port of 
the center line of the ship, as shown by the outline sketch of this 
unusual type of engine. There were two 7-furnace horizontal re- 
turn fire-tubular boilers containing 133 square feet of grate surface 
each. The propellers were four-bladed, nine feet in diameter, and 
instead of being supported by struts under the counters, the shafts 
were prolonged to the stern post where they were upheld by a cross- 
bar, the screws being at the ends of the shafts. 

This vessel was launched in 1859 but was not completed for 
sea until the spring of 1861 when she at once became actively en- 
gaged in warlike operations along the Atlantic coast, her first im- 
portant service being at the destruction of the Norfolk navy yard 
in April. During the same year she took part in the attack on 
Hatteras Inlet in August and in the battle of Port Royal in Novem- 
ber. During the following years of the war she was attached to 
the South Atlantic blockading squadron and did much important 
service on the coast of Florida and elsewhere. After the war she 
made one cruise to the Brazil station and then became a hospital and 
store-ship at home, being finally sold out of the service at Port 
Royal in 1884. 

In February, 1855, the Water Witch, which for years had 
been engaged in exploring La Plata River and its tributaries, was 
forcibly prevented from further prosecuting that work by being 
fired upon by a Paraguayan fort commanding the river, the man on 
duty at the wheel at the time being killed. Attempts to gain re- 
dress by diplomatic methods having been steadily repulsed by 
Lopez, the autocratic president of Paraguay, our government was 
finally forced to resort to a show of power, and late in the year 1858 
a squadron of nineteen naval vessels carrying two hundred guns and 
twenty- five hundred men was assembled in the river under command 
of Flag Officer W. B. Shubrick. Nine of these vessels were sailing 
frigates, sloops-of-war and brigs, the other ten being small steamers 
capable of ascending the river. Two of the steamers, the Fulton 
and Water Witch belonged to the regular naval establishment; an- 
other was the revenue cutter Harriet Lane, named for the neice of 


President Buchanan, and the others were merchant steamers char- 
tered and armed for the occasion. Six of them were screw steam- 
ers varying from 220 to 550 tons burden and were named Memphis, 
Atlanta, Caledonia, Southern Star, Western/port, and M. W. 
Chopin, the seventh, the Metacomet, being a side-wheel steamer of 
395 tons. Thirty-eight officers of the engineer corps were attached 
to these vessels. 

All the steamers and such of the sailing vessels as were per- 
mitted by their draft of water were moved up the river to a point 
above Rosario, ready to act against Paraguay if necessary, and in 
January 1859 the Flag Officer and Mr. Bowlin, the special commiss- 
ioner of the United States, proceeded in the Fulton and Water Witch 
to Assuncion, the capital of Paraguay. No difficulty was then ex- 
perienced in gaining a respectful hearing and the object of the mis- 
sion was fully and peacefully accomplished. A satisfactory apol- 
ogy was extended for firing on the Water Witch; an indemnity was 
paid on the spot for the benefit of the family of the seaman who 
had been killed, and the special envoy negotiated a new and ad- 
vantageous commercial treaty with the Paraguayan government. 
Without the steamers the successful termination of this expedition 
would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, Paraguay 
lying so far inland that natural obstacles would have prevented an 
approach by troops on land or by sailing vessels on the river except 
at an enormous outlay of life and money. 

When the squadron returned to the United States the chartered 
steamers were purchased and added to the naval establishment, 
about one-half of their cost price being money already paid or due 
the owners for their charters. After purchase, the names were 
changed as follows: Metacomet to Pulaski; Memphis to Mystic; 
Weslernport to Wyandotte; Caledonia to Mohawk; Atlanta to Sum- 
ter; Southern Star to Orusader; M. W. Chopin to Anaoostia. The 
side- wheel vessel, the Pulaski, was kept on the Brazil station doing 
exploring and other river service until 1863, when she was sold at 
Montevideo. The smallest of the screw steamers, the Anacosti, 
became a navy yard tender and coastwise transport attached to the 
Washington navy yard, and the five other screw steamers were put 
on active cruising duty on the coasts of Cuba and Africa, in the 
suppression of the slave trade. All did good service during the 


Civil War, and all were sold at its close with the exception of the 
/Swnter, which had been sunk in 1863 by an accidental collision 
with the army transport General Meigs. 

In the naval appropriation act approved June 22nd, 1860, a 
clause directed the Secretary of the Navy to have all the sailing 
vessels of the navy surveyed with a view to converting them into 
steamers. This duty was performed by a board composed of Cap- 
tains George W. Storer and S. H. Stringham; Engineer-in-Chief 
Archbold and Chief Engineer Isherwood; Chief Constructor John 
Lenthal, and Naval Constructor B. F. Delano; the vessels which 
were abroad and therefore not accessible, were reported upon from 
their records and drawings in the department. The report of the 
board was, that it was not expedient to introduce steam into the 
brigs, sloops and frigates, but that it was desirable in the case of 
the ships of the line, which class was recommended to be razeed 
and converted into first-class steam frigates. The Secretary of the 
Navy transmitted this report to Congress with his annual report at 
the end of that year, and urged that the recommendation be carried 
out, on the ground that, "in the event .of war no one of these line- 
of -battle ships, in the present state of steam navigation, could go 
to sea with a reasonable degree of safety. ' ' The work would un- 
doubtedly have been authorized by Congress that winter had not 
events of startling magnitude intervened to split both Congress and 
the navy in twain, and made the problem of strengthening the 
steam navy one that could not be met by the make-shift of patch- 
ing up old sailing ships. 


"Ev'n now we hear with inward strife 
A motion toiling in the gloom — 
The spirit of the years to come 
Yearning to mix himself with life." 

Alfred Tennyson. 

The Engineer Corps from 1850 to the Beginning of the Civil War— Congress Peti- 
tioned to Increase the Corps— Pay Increased by United Efforts of All Offi- 
cers — Bank of Engineers Defined — Issue of New Regulations Governing 
Appointment and Promotion— Opinions of Chief Engineer Gay in Belation to 
Sails and Steam. 

The membership of the engineer corps provided by the act of 
Congress of 1842 was based upon the number of steamers in the 
navy at the time, and made no provision for the performance of 
shore duty, except by the engineer-in-chief, thus compelling him 
to obtain technical assistance either from civilian engineers 
employed as clerks or draftsmen, or naval engineers who 
might be unemployed because of a steam war vessel having been 
put out of commission. The inspection work required of the 
engineer corps by the building of the Powhatan and other steamers 
at the same time, had with great difficulty been provided for; but 
had imposed upon the engineer-in- chief a vast amount of care and 
professional labor, greater in fact than one man could perform. In 
this dilemma the engineers petitioned Congress for relief, this me- 
morial having been preserved in official form as Senate Miscellane- 
ous Document No. 45, 32d Congress, 1st session, is herewith pre- 


Engineers of the Navy, 


February 24, 1852. 

Kef erred to the Committee on Naval Affairs 

February 25, 1852. 

Ordered to be Printed. 


To t/te Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of 
America in Congress assembled : 


The undersigned respectfully represent to your honorable bodies 
the utter inadequacy of the present organization of the engineer 
corps of the United States navy, and most earnestly solicit your at- 
tention to the following brief statement of facts in proof of this 
assertion, and in support of the propositions herewith submitted. 

The law of OongresB authorizing the present organization of the 
engineer corps was established in the very infancy of our steam ma- 
rine — at the time of constructing our first steam ship as an experiment. 
At that date neither a rapid increase of steamers nor an enlarged 
sphere of duties for the naval engineers, such as has since taken 
place, was contemplated; and the organization was accordingly made 
on a basis to meet the limited duties, both in extent and kind, 
which were intended to be performed by the corps. 

Those limited duties were to be entirely performed afloat on the 
Atlantic coast of the United States, and their sphere of action was 
to be confined to the management of the machinery of a few second 
class vessels, for home service exclusively, to which it was proposed 
to restrict our steam marine. It is scarcely necessary here to state 
that these expectations were never, even from the first, realized, aud 
the engineers of the naval corps at once entered upon a wide and 
very responsible range of duties combining all of theory and prac- 
tice known in the extensively ramified arts and sciences; making up a 
thorough knowledge of the principles and practice of marine steam 
engineering and steam navigation — a knowledge which it is believed 
will not be contested by any qualified to judge, to demand quite as 
much natural ability, united with as deep study and long practice, as 
are required for any other profession; certainly for any of those com- 
posing the various corps in the government service. 

Some of the duties of the engineer corps are briefly stated as 
follows: thoy decide upon and design the various complex machinery 
of the government war steamers; furnishing, first, the working 
drawings in the most complete detail, then superintending its manu- 
facture at the various establishments where it is contracted to bo 
built, and afterwards its erection on board the vessels; finally they 
operate this machinery at sea. 


The machinery so designed and constructed is of the largest, 
most complicated and costly description, frequently amounting in a 
first-class steam-ship to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is 
manufactured by contract at the various works where the Navy de- 
partment may direct, and naval engineers are the sole guardians of 
the public interest, where the expenditures constitute a formidable 
fraction of the naval appropriations. They furnish the only barrier 
to peculation on the government, and the fraudulent performance of 
contracts, if such were attempted. 

The amounts and kinds of labor done are determined by and 
paid for wholly on the certificates of the superintending engineer 
and the engineer-in-chief. 

Having thus shown, as we trust, to the satisfaction of your 
honorable bodies, the importance of having at all times in the coun- 
try, on shore duty, a sufficient number of engineers of the higher 
grades to discharge the above mentioned responsibilities, we proceed 
to show that in this very particular the present organization is de- 
fective. The act of 1842 only provides for the appointment of a 
sufficient number of engineers of all grades to supply our war steam- 
ers, leaving no margin for sickness or other disability, and making 
no provision whatever either for the supply of the many steamers 
attached to the coast survey, or for the designing and superintending 
the construction of such new machinery as the continually increasing 
wants of the service may require. It therefore follows, as the nec- 
essary consequence, either that the duty afloat must be performed 
by an insufficient number of engineers — and those, too, taken from 
the lower grades, not possessing the requisite experience and knowl- 
edge for its proper performance — or the more important, and indeed 
paramount, shore duties must be neglected. 

The Department has therefore preferred the former, rather than 
incur the loss and inconvenience of the latter. From the very 
commencement of the steam navy there has scarcely ever been a 
steamship in commission with the full complement of engineers. 
Those Engineers, therefore, who are ordered on duty afloat — a duty 
which tasks arduously their physical qualities— have thrown upon 
them a much greater amount than can fairly be performed with jus- 
tice, either to themselves or the government. And if the latter 
alternative were preferred, and the service afloat filled with the pre- 


scribed number of Engineers, it would keep the whole corps at sea, 
continually absent from their families, and without the rotation of 
shore duty enjoyed by other officers of the navy. 

The present organization allows one chief engineer, (commis- 
sioned by the President), two first assistant, two second assistant, 
and three third assistant engineers, for each steamer-of-war. All 
the assistant engineers hold their appointments by warrant of the 
Honorable Secretary of the Navy. 

The present number of steamers-of-war actually in commission 
is ten, and in the course of four months five more will probably be 
added — making fifteen, in all, in commission by the first of June 

The present organization authorizes the appointment of fifteen 
chief, thirty first assistant, thirty second assistant, and forty-five 
third assistant engineers. Now, by the first of June, next, twelve 
chief, twenty-seven first assistant, twenty-seven second assistant, 
and thirty-nine third assistant engineers will be required for service 
afloat, in naval steamers, leaving but three chief and twel/oe assist- 
ant engineers to perform the various shore duties, and engineer the 
six coast survey steamers. From this it will be seen how insufficient 
the present organization is, to provide for even a reasonable approx- 
imation of the requisite number. 

Further : the original organization contemplating only a provis- 
ion for the management of the machinery of the steam ships, provides 
merely for a chief engineer afloat as the highest grade ; but, as has 
been before shown, the construction of this machinery has been also 
superintended by the engineers of the navy. Now, it is well known 
that designing and constructing machinery requires a much higher 
order of ability than its after management ; and when the two du- 
ties are to be performed by the same Corps, those distinct offices 
should be performed by distinct grades — those of the highest talent 
being taken from the one to form the other. 

The organization of 1842 is, therefore, insufficient, in not hav- 
ing this provision, and we suggest to your honorable bodies the 
propriety of adding another grade, formed from the present grade 
of chief engineers, (without increase of pay), to be called '■'■Inspect- 
ors of Machinery Ashore and Afloat. ' ' In the British Navy, the 
necessities of their largest steam marine have already compelled the 


organization here recommended, and from them the title of "In- 
spectors of Machinery" is borrowed. 

Another reason for enlarging the engineer corps is furnished by 
the fact that a considerable extension of our steam marine must soon 
be made, and it is impossible to create good naval engineers as fast 
as it is possible to build steamships. 

All other corps are sufficiently numerous to anticipate a consid- 
erable increase of the navy, while the engineers are too few even 
for the present service. Were a sudden enlargement of the steam 
marine now to be made, the Engineer Corps will have to be filled 
with such talent as could be immediately commanded — not such as 
would be desired — and the public interests would inevitably suffer 
as a consequence. 

We would urge upon your honorable bodies the strong proba- 
bility, which will scarcely be contested by any who have bestowed 
the proper reflection upon the subject, that in 20 years there will be 
no naval vessels unpropelled in whole or in part by steam. The 
introduction of steam for all marine war purposes will be compelled 
by necessity and the pressure of circumstances. 

In conclusion, we, your memorialists, would state, that in our 
opinion the following additions to the present organization are neces- 
sary to render the engineer corps equal to the performance of the 
services required of it, viz : 

The addition of the higher grade of Inspector of machinery 
ashore and afloat. An inspector of machinery ashore to be allowed for 
each of the principal navy yards, and a chief engineer for each of 
the other navy yards ; also, an assistant engineer of each grade for 
each navy-yard. An inspector of machinery afloat to be allowed 
for each squadron containing two or more steamers. 

The inspector of machinery for the Washington Navy Yard 
to be attached to the office of engineer-in-chief of the Navy and 
to perform such duties as the engineer-in- chief may require of 


The inspectors of machinery to receive the same pay and be 
entitled to the same privileges and immunities in all respects as 
chief engineers, and to be commissioned in the same manner as 
Chief Engineers. 

The inspectors of machinery now required to be selected by the 


Hon. Secretary of the Navy from the present grade of Chief En- 
gineers, but that thereafter all promotions to that grade to be made 
by examination by a Board of Inspectors of machinery. 

Believing the above facts to be truthfully stated and relying on 
the wisdom and justice of your honorable bodies, we respectfully 
solicit for them a favorable consideration. 

Chaeles B. Stuart, 
Engineer-in-Chief, U. S. N. Navy. 

B. F. Ishbewood, 
Chief Engineer U. S. N. for the 
grade of Chief Engineer. 

J. W. King, 

First Assistant Engineer U. S. N. 
For the grade of Asst. Engineer. 

A bill providing for more engineers on the lines of the petition 
was favorably reported by the naval committees of Congress, but 
like the great majority of naval bills, failed to reach a vote through 
lack of interest in Congress and external opposition. Soon after- 
ward work was begun on the large screw frigates described in the 
preceding chapter, and this provided the opportunity of appointing 
engineers for them before they were completed, nearly fifty new 
members being added to the corps in the next three years and thirty 
more in the year 1857. 

In 1856 the engineers joined with all other branches of the 
service in an organized effort to obtain an increase of pay from 
Congress ; this effort is noteworthy from the fact, that probably it is 
the only instance on record where all the corps of the navy laying 
aside their rivalries and jealousies honestly worked together for a 
common purpose, also for the more especial and important reason 
that their united effort was successful. 

The writer has been fortunate enough to have been given a copy 
of a circular letter prepared by the officers' committee in Washing- 
ton and sent to all officers of the service, directing the manner to be 
observed in furthering their endeavor, which letter is here repro- 
duced as an instructive example of the method of going about the 
difficult task of securing legislation for the navy. 



"Washington, December, 8, 1856. 
' Sib : At a meeting of Naval Officers, held in this city on 
the 6th instant, with the view of concert of action in advocating 
the necessity of a general increase of pay for the Navy, the follow- 
ing officers were unanimously appointed a committee, charged with 
the management of the memorial to which your signature is ap- 
pended, viz : 

W. W. Hunter, Commander. 

Charles Steedman, " 

Thomas B. Neille, Purser. 

Maxwell Woodhull, Lieutenant. 

Eoger N. Stembel, 

Henry A. Wise, 

Joel S. Kennard, 

William G. Temple, 

John M. Brooke, 

A. W. Johnson, 

Robert Wood worth, Surgeon. 

Mordecai Yarnall, Professor of Mathematics. 

William Chauvenet, " " " 

Joseph S. Hubbard, " " " 

Montgomery Fletcher, First Assistant Engineer. 

James C. Warner, " " " 

"On the evening following, a sub-commiitee was appointed 
from this Body, under instructions to wait on the Hon. Secretary 
of the Navy, present the Memorial officially, make known the views 
of the memorialists, the action which had been already taken, and 
to consult with him as to the course most promissory of success. 

' ' The Secretary suggested the presentation of the Memorial 
to Congress through the Chairman of the Naval Committees, and 
that if any suggestions as to the mode of increase were elicited from 
the Committee, the most simple should be offered ; he has no objec- 
tion to the exercise of whatever personal influence officers may pos- 
sess with Members of Congress in furtherance of our object, but 
he will not approve indiscriminate approach to these gentlemen ; 
indeed such action would not comport with the dignity of our posi- 
tion as members of the Naval profession. 


' ' The Secretary, although sensible of the necessity and propri- 
ety of our application for an increase of pay, and willing to heartily 
second our efforts in that direction, is not disposed to favor per cent- 
age on sea-service ; he is of opinion that such a mode of increase 
would not be strictly just in its operation on the higher grades of 
the service. 

" At a subsequent meeting of the General Committee it was 
unanimously resolved : ' That, if our suggestions upon the subject 
were solicited by the Naval Committees, we should simply state, 
that, in our opinion, an addition of thirty per cent, to our present 
pay, all around, and in each grade, would not be taxing too much 
,the liberality of Congress. ' 

" As a matter of course, the Naval Committees, should they 
require information upon this subject, will direct its enquiries to the 
Head of the Navy Department. So far as individual action of the 
officers is concerned, judicious management and unanimity of 
opinion is certainly necessary. It is with this view, and to prevent 
embarrassment, which might result in a defeat of the object con- 
templated, that we address to you this circular. This Committee, 
acting in the spirit of fairness and justice, would claim your confi- 
dence and earnest support. 

" It is a well-known fact, that the expression of adverse views 
upon Naval matters before Congress tends to obstruct the action of 
that body, and we beg that in the exercise of whatever personal 
force you may be able to bring to the advancement and success of this 
measure, you will support the recommendation of your committee." 

A bill entitled "A bill to increase and regulate the 
pay of the navy," was introduced and experienced the various 
vicissitudes of bills for two congresses, finally becoming a law on 
the 1st of June, 1860. By the terms of the act an increase of pay 
of about twenty-five per cent, in every grade and corps was pro- 
vided for, and a longevity scale adopted, the majority of the grades 
being provided with four rates of pay increasing with length of ser- 
vice. The following rates were fixed for the engineer corps: 

Chief Engineers, (on duty). 

For first five years after date of commission $1,800 

For second five years after date of commission 2,200 


For third five years after date of commission $2,450 

After fifteen years from date of commission 2,600 

On leave, or waging okdees. 

For first five years after date of commission $1,200 

For second five years after date of commission 1,300 

For third five years after date of commission 1,400 

After fifteen years from date of commission 1,600 

First Assistant Engineers. 

On duty $1,250 

On leave, or waiting orders 900 

Second Assistant Engineers. 

On duty $1,000 

On leave, or waiting orders 750 

Third Assistant Engineers. 

On duty $ 750 

On leave, or waiting orders 600 

In January 1859 Mr. Toucey, the Secretary of the Navy, 
issued the following general order conferring naval rank upon the 
officers of the engineer corps: 

" Chief engineers of more than twelve years will rank with 

"Chief engineers of less than twelve years with lieutenants. 

" First assistant engineers next after lieutenants. 

" Second assistant engineers next after masters. 

' ' Third assistant engineers with midshipmen. 

"This order confers no authority to exercise military command, 
except in the discharge of their duties, and no additional right to 

This order was affirmed by Congress March 3, 1859, with the 
words " except in the discharge of their duties " stricken out, 
which omission merely served to emphasize the embarrassment of 


the engineers in controlling their own men aboard ship, where their 
authority was necessarily military, or else no authority at all. 

Orders defining the rank of surgeons and paymasters, similar 
to the above, had been in existence for some time and the status 
thus conferred was generally satisfactory to the staff officers. That 
it was not satisfactory to others is shown by the fact that the de- 
partment had to re-affirm the staff officers' rank by the following 
order, issued February 25, 1861: 

' ' Surgeons of the fleet, surgeons, paymasters, and chief en- 
gineers of more than twelve years, rank with commanders. Sur- 
geons, paymasters, and chief engineers of less than twelve years, 
rank with lieutenants. Passed assistant surgeons and first assistant 
engineers rank next after lieutenants. Assistant surgeons and 
second assistant engineers next after masters, and third assistant 
engineers with midshipmen. 

" This rank is now established by law, and neither the depart- 
ment nor any officer in command has authority to withhold it, or the 
honors which belong to it. 

' ' Commanding and executive officers of whatever grade, while 
on duty, take precedence of surgeons, paymasters and engineers, 
and the effect of this precedence is to elevate the former, but not to 
depress the latter, or to detract from the rank or the honors of the 
rank already secured to them. Commanders, while on duty as 
commanding officers, will have a corporal's guard. Lieutenants, 
while on duty as executive officers, will wear on the cuffs a gold 
embroidered star, one inch and a quarter in diameter, to be placed 
one half of an inch above the stripe of gold lace, and these will 
indicate the precedence to which they are by law entitled." 

An entirely new schedule of requirements for admission and 
promotion of officers in the engineer corps was issued in 1859; the 
regulations in full are as follows: 

Beoulations for Admission and Promotion in the Engineer Corps. 

Before persons can be appointed assistant engineers in the navy, 
they must have passed a satisfactory examination before a board of 
at least three engineers, designated at such times as the wants of 


the service require. Application for permission to appear be- 
fore such board must be made in writing to the Secretary of the 
Navy, accompanied by satisfactory testimonials as to good moral 
character, correct habits, and sound constitution. The application 
will be registered, and when a board next meets, permission will be 
sent to the applicant, stating the time and place of the meeting of 
the Board. 

In the examination for a third assistant engvneer, the candidate 
must be able to describe all the different parts of ordinary condens- 
ing and non-condensing engines, and explain their uses and their 
mechanical operation; to explain the manner of putting engines in 
operation, how to regulate and modify their action, and the manner 
of guarding against danger from the boilers, by the means usually 
applied to them for that purpose. He will be expected to write a 
fair, legible hand, and to be well acquainted with arithmetic and the 
mensuration of surfaces and solids of the regular forms; to have 
worked not less than one year in a marine engine manufactory, and 
present testimonials of his mechanical ability from the director of 
the establishment in which he may have served. He must not be less 
than twenty nor more than twenty-six years of age. 

Candidates for promotion to the rank of second assistant engineer 
must have served at least two years as third assistants in the manage- 
ment of steam engines in the navy in actual service, must produce 
testimonials of good conduct from the commanders and senior engi- 
neers of the vessels in which they may have served, and must pass 
a satisfactory examination upon the subjects, and to the extent pre- 
scribed for third assistants; they must likewise be able to explain 
the peculiarities of the different kinds of valves, the construction of 
expansion valves, the manner of their operation, the remedies which 
are usually resorted to, to check foaming in boilers ; must possess a 
knowledge of the usual causes of derangement in the operation of 
air pumps, force pumps, and feed pipes, the proper preventives and 
remedies, and the mode of cleaning boilers when required. They 
must have a general knowledge of the mensuration of surfaces and 

Before promotion to the rank of first assistant engineer candi- 
dates mu6t have been employed at least three years as second assis- 
tant engineers in the management of steam engines in actual service, 


and produce testimonials of character and good conduct from their 
former commanders and superior engineers ; must pass a satisfactory 
examination upon the subjects prescribed for third and second assis- 
tants, the mechanical powers, the different kinds of deposits and in- 
crustations to which boilers are exposed, and be able to furnish a 
working sketch or drawing of different parts of engines and boilers; 
to superintend their construction, and determine upon their accuracy 
and fitness for use. 

Promotions to the grade of chief engineer are to be made after 
the candidate has served for two years as first assistant engineer in 
the management of steam engines in the navy in sea service, and 
has been examined upon any of the subjects specified for assistant, 
which the board may deem expedient, and after they shall have sat- 
isfied the board of their previous good conduct and character, of 
their sufficient knowledge of mechanics and natural philosophy, of 
the forms, arrangements, and principles of different kinds of steam 
engines, boilers, propellers, and their various dependencies, which 
have been successfully applied to steam vessels, and their alleged 
relative advantages, for sea or river service, and shall have attained 
26 years of age. 

Candidates for promotion who may fail to pass a satisfactory 
examination may be examined once again, and if they fail to pass 
at the second examination they shall be dropped from the list of en- 

Candidates for admission or promotion will be required to fur- 
nish the board of examiners with evidence of their abilities in the ex- 
ecution of mechanical drawings, and their proficiency in penmanship. 

The examining board will report the relative qualifications of 
the persons examined, and number them, giving the best qualified 
the lowest number. 

> When, in the opinion of the department, the wants of the ser- 
vice require the admission of engineers of any grade above that of 
third assistant, the same qualifications and restrictions as to times of 
service will be exacted as by the regulations required for promotion 
to the grade in question: Provided, that all appointments to the 
grade of second assistant shall be made between the ages of 21 and 
28; and to that of first assistant, between 25 and 32; and to that of 
Chief engineer, between 28 and 35. 


The assistants must employ all favorable opportunities for ac- 
quiring a practical knowledge of the fabrication of the different parts 
of steam engines and their dependencies, that they may be able to 
repair or replace such parts as the space and means for making and 
repairing can be furnished in steam vessels. When other qualifica- 
tions are equal, candidates whose skill and abilities in these particu- 
lars are superior, will have precedence over others for admission or 
promotion, who may be considered equal in other particulars. 

Isaac Toucey, 

Secretary of the Navy. 
Navy Department, May 7, 1859. 

During this decade immediately preceding the Civil War the 
supremacy of steam power over sails as a means of marine locomo- 
tion came to be very generally admitted in the naval service, even 
by the most conservative, and the work of creating an efficient steam 
fleet was begun in earnest. Of the many opinions and reports origi- 
nating in the navy about this time and dealing with the subject of 
steam versus sails, one of the most interesting and valuable that has 
been preserved is a letter by Chief Engineer Jesse Gay of the Miss- 
issippi which exhibits so much good practical sense in looking at the 
question, that it is here copied for the benefit of a younger genera- 
tion of naval officers, some of Mr. Gay's views even yet being 
pertinent to naval economy. 

U. S. Steamer Mississippi, 

At Sea, November 8, 1851. 

Sib: After long experience on board of this ship, a careful obser- 
vation of the defects, with a wish to render her more efficient, I take 
the liberty to make the following observations, and suggest improve- 
ments, which, if adopted, will render the Mississippi more useful, 
efficient and safe. 

The objects to be attained in a War Steamer are, first, weight 
of battery. Second, speed by steam, with an economical expendi- 
ture of coals. Third, to combine her steam and sails, so that one 
shall not be transported at the expense of the other. A ship of war, 
without guns, would be perfectly defenseless; a war steamer, with 
encumbrance on her steam power, is equally so. The sails of the 



Mississippi are auxiliary to her steam; with her sails unaided by the 
engines, she is helpless ; on the other hand her engines are sufficient 
to handle her without the assistance of sails. The conclusion is, 
therefore, that the less the engines are encumbered with the spars 
and sails, which are useless, the better for efficiency and safety. 
Again, if a ship is overburdened with sails, spars, steam engines, 
boilers, besides any useless weight, it deducts the same number of 
pounds from her battery, or immerses her to a dangerous depth in 
the water, obstructs, her speed, and occasions a useless expenditure 
of coal, for which a small compensation is obtained. 

The spars and sails of the Mississippi are too large ; if they were 
reduced to the proper size, her speed would be augmented more than 
one knot per hour, allowing her to draw the same water. The en- 
gines not only have her vast hull to propel, but the great surface of 
spars, which are a great obstruction to the speed. It is supposed 
the larger the sails the more assistance they are capable of rendering. 
This is a mistaken idea, as experience abundantly has shown; a pro- 
per area of sails is unquestionably advantageous, but this area must 
not exceed a limit at which they would be an obstruction to speed 
by steam. When the winds are fair, a six knot breeze is required 
before the sails are of any use in propelling the ship conjointly with 
steam power; if the winds are strong a large spread of canvas is 
dangerous. In a storm, only a sufficient quantity is necessary to 
steady the ship, and this will of course be, fore and aft sails. With 
light fair winds, the power of the engines will bring light airs ahead; 
thus, a steamer will most of the time have light airs ahead, or occa- 
sionally aft, but not in sufficient force to make her sails effective; 
hence, it is clear that her great spars are an encumbrance to her 
speed under most of these circumstances; the mainsail cannot be 
carried— the main topsail has seldom been used — studding sails have 
been useless — fore topsail useful — top-gallant sails seldom — fore- 
topmast stay-sail and jib useful. The useful sails are fore and main 
trysails, fore topmast stay sail and jib, and occasionally the spanker 
with effect. With moderate or fresh breezes ahead, the top gallant 
sails are necessarily sent down; in strong head winds, lower yards 
and top masts are also sent down. In fine weather all these spars 
are again sent up to improve the appearance of the ship. All this 
has to be done at the expense of labor of the crew, while the very 


spars which are so often sent up and down are seldom of any use in 
propelling the ship. The ship may be propelled by the aid of her 
sails, but in a very awkard manner; the first difficulty, the crew is 
far too small to handle her immense sails with sufficient promptitude; 
in the second place, the mainmast is so far abaft the centre of mo- 
tion that all the sails upon it, (except with a wind directly aft), are 
of but little or no use; the foremast is also too far forward. All 
these difficulties it is impossible to obviate; with sails alone she is a 
clumsy ship, hardly capable of handling herself; she never can be 
an auxiliary steamer with her masts in their present position, the 
most important of which cannot be moved (the main). But these 
are not all the difficulties ; the great length of spars produce another 
difficulty of equal damage to her efficiency, which must exist with 
her great spars, viz: spare sails, spars and rigging must be put into 
the sbip to the amount of many tons; this weight only adds to her im- 
mersion and reduces her speed; or, in other words, it requires a 
portion of her steam power to transport this useless weight, which 
does nothing to efficiency, speed or safety. As I before remarked, 
all the unnecessary weight put into a War Steamer, deducts the 
same from her general efficiency and safety. On two occasions she 
has been fitted for a cruise with all the spare material on board, 
which rendered her dangerously deep and almost unfit for sea, and 
1 believe a very small proportion of these sails and spare spars have 
ever been used, for the purpose for which they were put on board. 

To remedy the difficulties I have enumerated, I suggest that 
the spars, including lower masts, be reduced to a proper dimension, 
which would not exceed in weight more than one half the present 
ones; this would be a reduction of many tons, beside the reduction 
of weight of spare spars, sails and rigging, the saving to convert to 
more useful purposes room which it now occupies, and with this re- 
duction the sails, rigging, etc., would be useful, where now it is so 
unwieldly as not to be used at all. Again, if this reduction was 
made, the sails and spars would be proportioned to her crews, and 
could then be worked with ease, where now they cannot. 

Besides the reduction of spars, she requires a reduction in the 
weight of her anchors (she now carries four, which weigh 63 cwt. 
each; she only requires two, or if four, of much less weight than the 
present) this would also reduce the weight of chain. At no time du- 


ring this cruise has she required more than two anchors; late in the 
cruise a much smaller one was substituted for one of the above 
weight; this has been found sufficient and much less labor to work it. 

I am of the opinion that a steamer is more secure with two 
anchors (and not extremely heavy ones) than a sailing ship is with 
four. The engines themselves are a greater security than two an- 
chors; hence, a steamer does not require so great weight of anchor. 

If the forgoing suggestions were followed out the Mississippi 
could then carry two or four more guns, and draw less water than she 
now does; her speed. would be augmented with the same expenditure 
of coal. She would have more room to berth her crew, which she 
much needs; her expenses would be reduced, and she would be more 
formidable; but if her present spars are retained, all of these quali- 
ties, which are so important in a war steamer, will be lost. 

In submitting these views, which I have gathered from experi- 
ence on board the Mississippi, I have felt some delicacy, knowing 
that I have ventured opinions which do not accord with theory. 
What I have submitted is based upon practical observations alone, 
for the correctness and verity of which I appeal to every experienc- 
ed officer who has sailed in her any length of time. I have also had 
opportunity of seeing many foreign war steamers, particularly those 
of England and France; the difference between them and the Missi- 
issippi is, they carry less spars and more guns. 1 have not seen a 
war steamer of any nation carrying so heavy spars as the Mississippi, 
but I have frequently met with those of much less tonnage and 
power, carrying a much greater weight of battery. 
I am very respectfully, 

Tour obedient servant, 

Jesse Gay, 
Oapt. John C. Long, Chief Engineer. 

Com. U. S. Steamer Mississippi. 


"There's a demon, and he dwelleth in the drum ; 
See the volunteers as down the street they come. 
Proudly the procession marches, 
Under bunting, under arches, 
To the rattle, rattle, rattle, 
Like a volley belched in battle, 
And he saith : 
I am Cain come again ; on my forehead is the stain. 



Come, come, come — 

Unto Death." — Francis Z. Stone. 


IN Captain Collum's excellent history of the United States Marine 
Corps he prefaces his account of the services of the marines 
during the war of the rebellion with an extract from Lossing's 
"Civil War in America," which outlines most eloquently the ser- 
vices rendered by the navy to the nation during that gigantic 
struggle for life. So correctly is the arduous and baffling character 
of the naval operations indicated, and so gracefully is the praise due 
the navy accorded, that the author feels he cannot do better than 
introduce the same extract as a prelude to what he will have to say 
regarding the achievements of the naval engineers during that same 
trying period. 

" In the spring of the year 1861 a civil war was kindled in the 
United States of America which has neither a pattern in character 
nor a precedent in causes recorded in the history of mankind. It 
appears in the annals of the race as a mighty phenomenon, but not 
an inexplicable one. Gazers upon it at this moment, when its 
awfully grand and mysterious proportions rather fill the mind with 
wonder than excite the reason, look for the half -hid den springs of 
its existence in different directions among the absurdities of theory. 
There is a general agreement, however, that the terrible war was 
clearly the fruit of a conspiracy against the nationality of the 
republic, and an attempt, in defiance of the laws of divine equity, to 


establish an empire upon a basis of injustice and a denial of the 

dearest rights of man It was the rebellion of an 

oligarchy against the people, with whom the sovereign power is 
rightfully lodged. 

" The services of the national Navy during the war, on account 
of their peculiarity, attracted less attention than those of the army, 
and were not appreciated by the people. They have an equal claim 
to the gratitude of the nation, so freely accorded to the other 
branch of the service. The Confederates having no navy, in a 
proper sense, and only flotillas here and there, and with some pow- 
erful ' rams' on rivers and in harbors, and not a ship on the ocean, 
excepting roving pirate vessels, — built, armed, furnished, and 
manned chiefly by the British, and cruising alone, — there were few 
occasions for purely naval battles. The whole force of the Navy 
Department was employed in the services of blockade, in assisting 
the attacks of the armies on fortifications along the rivers and on the 
borders of the Gulf and the ocean, or in chasing the pirates. In 
these fields of great usefulness the national vessels performed labors 
of incalculable value, and officers and men exhibited skill, valor, 
and fortitude unsurpassed. 

"Never in the history of the world were there occasions for 
such exhausting labors and highest courage in service afloat as the 
American Navy was subjected to in its operations among the rivers 
and bayous of the southwestern regions of the Republic. Many a 
victory over which the people have shouted themselves hoarse in 
giving plaudits to the gallant army might never have been achieved 
but for the co-operation of the Navy. To the common observer it, 
in many instances, seemed to be only an auxiliary, or wholly a 
secondary force, when, in truth, it was an equal, if not the chief, 
power in gaining a victory. Without it, what might have been the 
result of military operations at Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh 
and all along the Mississippi River, especially at Vicksburg, Port 
Hudson, and New Orleans ; what at Mobile, Pensacola, Key West, 
along the Florida seaboard, the sea-coast islands, Charleston and 
the borders of North Carolina, and even in holding Fortress Monroe 
and Norfolk ? 

"Notwithstanding the weak condition of the naval service, the 
decree went forth, in the spring of 1861, that all the ports of the 


States wherein rebellion existed must be closed against commerce 
by a strict blockade. Foreign nations protested and menaced, but 
the work was done. There were no dock-yards or workmen adequate 
to construct the vessels needed for the service, yet such was the 
energy of the Department that an unrelaxing blockade was main- 
tained for four years, from the Capes of the Chesapeake to the Rio 
Grande, while a flotilla of gunboats, protecting and aiding the army 
in its movements, penetrated and patrolled our rivers, through an 
internal navigation almost continental, from the Potomac to the 
Mississippi. Ingenuity and mechanical skill developed amazing in- 
ventions. That marine monster, the Monitor, was created and 
began a new era in naval warfare ; and the world was suddenly en- 
riched by new discoveries in naval service. Vessels of the merchant 
service were purchased and converted into strong warriors ; and men 
from that service were invited to man them. Schools were estab- 
lished for nautical instruction ; dock-yards were enlarged and filled 
with workmen ; and very soon a large number of vessels were 
afloat, watching the harbors under the ban. No less than two hun- 
dred and eight war vessels were constructed, and most of them 
fitted out during the four years ; and four hundred and eighteen 
vessels were purchased and converted into war ships. 

' ' The blockading service was performed with great vigor and 
efficiency under the triple stimulus of patriotism, duty, and personal 
emolument. The British government professed to be neutral, but 
British merchants and adventurers were allowed to send swarms of 
swift-winged steamers, laden with arms, ammunition, clothing, and 
everything needed by the insurgents, to run the blockade. The 
profits of such operations were enormous, but the risks were equally 
so ; and it is believed that a true balance-sheet would show no 
profits left, in the aggregate, with the foreign violators of the law. 
The number of such vessels captured and destroyed during the re- 
bellion by the national Navy was fifteen hundred and four. The 
gross proceeds of property captured and condemned as lawful prize 
before the first of November following the close of the war amounted 
to nearly twenty-two millions of dollars, which sum was subse- 
quently enlarged by new decisions. The value of the vessels cap- 
tured and destroyed (eleven hundred and forty-nine captured and 
three hundred and fifty-five destroyed) was not less than seven mil- 


lion of dollars, making a total loss, chiefly to British owners, of at 
least thirty million of dollars. ' ' 

It is not believed that the distinguished historian from whose 
work the above is quoted has in the least overstated the value of 
the services rendered the nation by the navy daring the Civil War. 
As the length of time increases since the conclusion of that struggle, 
we are getting to study its events more carefully and to be more 
critical in analyzing the exact relationship between causes and 
effects. An analysis that was quite impracticable in the years 
immediately succeeding the close of the war because at that time 
men's minds were filled with the magnitude and brilliancy of the 
achievements of an army numerically so enormous as to eclipse en- 
tirely the naval force, and in which a personal interest was com- 
pelled from the very circumstance of its greatness, which necessit- 
ated representation in its ranks of every family within the borders 
of the nation. The blockade of the sea coast alone, of the revolted 
territory, cannot appear now in any other light than a deciding 
factor in the ultimate conquest of the Confederacy. Had the 
Southern states been free to ship their cotton to Europe and ex- 
change it for provisions and munitions of war, who is wise enough to 
say when the end would have come ? Could the invasion of the 
South been possible had not the naval force, hovering over the 
coasts with ceaseless vigilance for more than three years, practic- 
ally disarmed the Confederacy and starved its people into submis- 
sion by depriving them of the benefits of commerce ? 

In telling the story of the maintenance of the blockade it is 
impossible to give too much credit for results to the naval engineers 
serving in the blockading squadrons. A great object in view was 
to keep the vessels in condition to remain on their stations, for the 
removal of even one steamer at a time meant the weakening of the 
line, of watchers and might involve a breaking of the blockade, and 
this duty to a great extent fell upon the engineers, for without 
steam power — always ready — the ships were worthless. In hastily 
constructed gunboats, or commercial vessels as hastily equipped for 
war purposes, without an adequate supply of engineering stores and 
without proper tools or facilities for effecting repairs, the duties of 
the engineers were the most difficult and fretting that can be 
imagined; notwithstanding which, they, as a rule were found equal 


to the emergencies that confronted them and succeeded in keeping 
their ships and the blockade efficient, and this in spite of the fact 
that the engineering talent of every sea-port of Great Britain was 
arrayed against them in the effort to produce marine machinery 
that could over-endure that of the Federal vessels. 

The author has been favored w.ith a large number of letters 
from men who as regular or volunteer engineers performed their 
share in the labor of making a rigorous blockade possible, and from 
the recital of trials and hardships thus presented he cannot but mar- 
vel at the faithfulness, loyalty, and thoroughness of the services 
rendered. The engineers shared with other officers the dangers of 
battle, pestilence, and storm, as well as the hardships due to im- 
proper food and insufficient clothing, and in addition, they had to 
struggle constantly with the discouraging task of keeping old and 
worn-out, or new and badly adjusted, machinery in working order; 
a task that permitted no rest for either body or mind. A record of 
the make-shifts, alterations, inventions and substitutes to which 
these devoted men were compelled to resort from sheer lack of 
proper mechanical appliances to aid them in their labors, would 
prove a most interesting chapter in the history of man's ingenuity, 
and would be valuable to the engineers of to-day, even though our 
smallest gun- vessels now carry excellently equipped repair shops, 
and are supplied with a veritable mine of tools, fittings and spare 

Had the service been less arduous and afforded some oppor- 
tunities for rest, the possibility of securing it was often wanting. 
Although absolutely essential to the well-being of the ship, in a 
degree scarcely approximated by any other class of officers, the en- 
gineer was too often precluded by the nebulous nature of his relat- 
ive rank from occupying any but the merest leavings of the quarters 
in which he was supposed to have a share. One former member 
of the corps writes of an instance where an engineer attached to 
a small armed steamer was completely left out in the distribution 
of living space and for upwards of two years had no home on board 
whatever, except a piece of canvas in form of a tent under which 
he was allowed to sleep, summer and winter, on top of the deck 
house. Numerous other instances have been related to the writer 
of engineers unprovided with quarters being obliged to sleep in the 


hot drum-rooms over the boilers, or who constructed for themselves 
rough bunks in the engine rooms or shaft alleys. These cases of 
individual neglect and hardship fortunately do not stand as repre- 
sentative of the experience of all, for in many vessels there was 
room even for the engineers, but they serve to show what discour- 
agements were encountered by a considerable number of an invalu- 
able class of officers who inherited an official position vastly inferior 
to the value of their services or their real merits. 

Under such circumstances it is remarkable that the engineers 
maintained their patriotism and devotion to duty as well as they did, 
the records of the war showing, however, that instances of defection 
or faint-heartedness among them were rare indeed. Soon after the 
war closed, Hear Admiral David D. Porter, writing to Chief En- 
gineer W.W. W. Wood, thus referred to his experience with the 
naval engineers: " I have had more than two thousand engineers 
under my command during the Rebellion and I have never known 
them to shrink from any service." There were of course occasional 
instances of discouragement after prolonged and arduous duty 
where the engineer gave up in despair and declared his inability 
to keep his department longer in service, and there were also a very 
few cases where the engineer allowed a wearied and disgusted com- 
manding officer to influence him into making such a report against 
his judgment. In either case the effort to get off the blockade and 
enjoy a respite from its toils at some Northern navy yard generally 
came to naught. 

After the capture of Port Eoyal, early in the war, a naval sup- 
ply and repairing station was maintained at that place, and there the 
broken-down ships from the blockade were usually sent for examin- 
ation before being allowed to proceed North. The mechanical de- 
partment of this station was presided over by veteran chief engin- 
eers of the old navy, who had long before lost all the nonsense of 
youth and were incapable of sympathy for their juniors who had 
tales to tell of what they could not do. To their minds, an engineer 
in charge of a steamer in the presence of the enemy ought to be able 
to do anything, and be resourceful enough to meet any emergency. 
If, upon examination, they decided that the reported defects in a 
vessel could have been repaired at sea the offending engineer whose 
report had taken the vessel off her station received very little 


mercy. A report to the commander-in-chief of the squadron meant 
a court-martial, and that in turn meant reduction in grade or sum- 
mary dismissal from the service. This may seem harsh and unchar- 
itable treatment of those whose duties at best were trying, but indi- 
viduals have little right to consideration in great national operations, 
and their chief engineers, whose reports would have appeared cruel 
and savored of persecution in time of peace, were merely perform- 
ing their proper part in the prosecution of the war. The service 
rendered by them in this manner, and in directing repairs to dis- 
abled ships, was of incalculable benefit to commanders of squadrons 
in carrying out the operations entrusted to them, a fact appreciated 
and very properly referred to by Rear Admiral Dahlgren, who wrote 
to the Department on the occasion of relinquishing command of the 
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron at the close of the war: " Fleet 
Engineer Danby has been for the last two years in charge of the 
mechanical steam department at Bay Point, where his industry and 
thorough knowledge of his business has alone enabled me to keep in 
active operation so many steamers; the first time, perhaps, that this 
power has been submitted to such a test. ' ' 

To those who study the social and industrial conditions existing 
within the United States prior to the Civil War, conditions which 
contributed fully as much to the causes which made that war pos- 
sible, as did the political questions generally supposed to have been 
its provocation, the fact that the mechanical element of the North, 
represented by the engineers of the navy, had such an important 
part in accomplishing the conquest of the Confederacy must appear 
as a most appropriate manifestation of retributive justice. An arti- 
ficial state of society at the South, founded upon the institution of 
human slavery, had inculcated a genuine contempt for labor and 
the industrial arts, and resulted in the utter neglect of the vast min- 
eral resources of that region, now one of its most important sources 
of wealth, simply because no one was so low in the social scale as to 
burden his mind with a knowledge of metallurgy, which involved 
practical experience. Had the South possessed the educated 
scientists, the skilled mechanics, and the innumerable mills and 
workshops that a higher order of progress has now given her, there 
is no telling when, or how the war might have ended. 

As it was, when the war broke out there was but one establish- 


ment — the Tredegar Iron Works, of Richmond — within the limits 
of the Confederacy capable of making the very modest armor plates 
used on the Merrimac and Alb&marle, while the total number of 
skilled artisans was probably exceeded by the number employed 
in any one of a score or more of Northern workshops busily en- 
gaged in making ships, engines and guns for the national navy. 
When the first supply of arms and tools had been exhausted, the 
South was unable to make others, nor could she receive them from 
abroad on account of the vigilance of the blockading ships, kept up 
to their work by the skill of the Northern engineers. As tersely 
expressed by Engineer-in-Chief Isherwood, in one of his official re- 
ports regarding the conduct of the war, "our antagonists had 
neither engineering skill nor resources in themselves, nor could 
they, owing to the efficiency of our navy, obtain them from others, 
and the want was fatal ; they had despised the mechanical arts and 
sciences, and by those arts and sciences they fell." 


Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy from October 16, 1857, to March 25, 1861. 


" Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; 
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; 
He hath loosed the fateful lightnings of his terrible swift sword; 
His truth is marching on. 
Julia Wabd Howe — Battle-Hymn of the BepubUc. 

1861. The Civil War, continued — Engineers and Steam Vessels in the Navy at the 
Outbreak of Hostilities — Resignation and Dismissal of Officers — B. F. Isher- 
wood Appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy — Increase of the Engineer 
Corps — Qualifications of the Volunteer Engineers — Remarkable Career of Don 
Carlos Hasseltino — Vessels Added to the Fleet during the Year — The Keab. 
sabge and Canandaigua Class of Steam Sloops — The Ninety Day Gunboats 
—The First Double-Enders. 

AT the beginning of the eventful year 1861 the engineer corps of 
the navy consisted of twenty-eight chief engineers, forty-three 
first assistant engineers, twenty-nine Becond assistant engineers, and 
ninety-two third assistants, a total of one hundred and ninety-two. 
This number was established by adhering as closely as practicable to 
the provisions of the act of Congress of 1842, which authorized the 
appointment of one chief engineer, two first assistants, two second 
assistants, and three third assistants for each steam-vessel of war. 
The steam navy at the beginning of 1861 consisted of six great ships, 
of which the Niagara and Colorado were types, and which in their 
size, battery and beauty were the marvels of the maritime world at 
that day; six first-class screw sloops, everyone of which was destned 
to become famous in the annals of the navy, and one of which — the 
Hartford — was to become a name synonymous with naval glory; 
four large side- wheel steamers, one of which was the Powhatan ; 
eight second-class steam-sloops, represented in the modern navy by 
the Iroquois ; five purchased screw steamers of about five hundred 
tons each, and five small side wheel gunboats, the Michigan of this 
class being still with us. 

Twenty-seven of the members of the engineer corps were Vir- 
ginians, and seven others belonged to the Carolinas, Alabama, and 
Florida, but the majority came from the New England and Middle 
States, Maryland and the District of Columbia beiDg especially well 


represented. The Northwestern States, which now furnish so many 
naval engineers through the medium of the Naval Academy, then 
had but five representatives — two each from Ohio and Wisconsin 
and one from Illinois. Mr. Samuel Archbold was the engineer -in- 
chief of the navy at the beginning of the year, but in March he 
resigned that position and his commission as a chief engineer in the 
navy as well, going out of the service without any suspicion of dis- 
loyalty, as his motives for resigning were personal and not con- 
nected in any way with the political unrest of the times. He was 
succeeded by Mr. Benjamin F. Isherwood, who was selected by the 
President and appointed engineer-in- chief on the 26th day of 
March, 1861. Mr. Isherwood's name was the fifth in order on the 
list of chief engineers at the time, and he was recognized as the 
foremost man of his corps in professional ability and zeal, while 
his indefatigable energy and intense patriotism brought to the head of 
one of the most important executive branches of the Navy Depart- 
ment a man well fitted for the Herculean task that the next few 
years had in store. 

In the spring of this year the political storm that had been 
gathering for so many years finally burst, and the officers and men 
of the navy were confronted with the desperate issue of choosing 
between two flags. Of the engineers from the Southern States five 
resigned and had their resignations accepted by the Department, but 
by that time resignations of officers of the army and navy had become 
epidemic, and President Lincoln directed that all such in the future 
be treated as proof of disloyalty sufficient to warrant summary dis- 
missal from the service of the United States, which treatment was 
administered to seventeen of the naval engineers who sent in their 
resignations after it was too late. One of these, William P. William- 
son, whose name had stood at the head of the list of chief engineers, 
became the engineer-in-chief of the Confederate navy; a few others 
continued their profession in the same service, while others went 
into the insurgent army, where some achieved considerable military 
distinction, and others were killed or crippled fighting against the 
flag under which they had acquired their first military ideas, and to 
which they would have remained loyal had they been inspired by 
that thoughtful good judgment supposed to be an attribute of all en- 
gineers by the virtue of philosophic nature of their calling. 


In July, 1861, Congress provided for a temporary increase of 
the navy ' ' for and during the present insurrection, ' ' which act au- 
thorized the Secretary of the Navy to hire, purchase, or contract for 
such vessels as might be found necessary, to arm and equip them, 
and to appoint acting or volunteer officers for them. Under the 
operation of this law the navy grew rapidly both in ships and m per- 
sonnel: such vessels as were bought outright or built on the order of the 
Navy Department became, of course, government war-vessels, and 
as such served to authorize a great increase in the regular engineer 
corps, a considerable increase being effected during the first year of 
the war, but not at all in proportion to the increase in the number of 
war steamers, as the officials of the Navy Department were wise 
enough to know that the rebellion would eventually be put down, 
and it was only a question of time before the navy would have to be 
re-established on a peace basis. Accordingly the majority of the 
new engineers held only acting appointments. At the end of the 
year 1861 the regular engineer establishment had increased to four 
hundred and four, of whom forty-eight were chief engineers; at the 
same time there were three hundred and sixty-four acting engineers 
distributed through the grades of first, second and third assistants. 
The increase in numbers went steadly on until, in January, 1865, 
there were four hundred and seventy-four regulars and eighteen 
hundred and three volunteers, of which numbers fifty-nine regulars 
and fifty- five volunteers were chief engineers. 

In spite of all the hurry, excitement, and anxiety incident to the 
existence of a state of war, it is greatly to the credit of the officials 
at the head of the engineer corps that the careful system of examina- 
tions for admission to the regular service was rigidly adhered to 
throughout the war, thus preventing the acquisition to the permanent 
corps of any who were not professionally and morally fit for the ser- 
vice. In the case of acting appointments in the volunteer service 
little or no examination was required, the need for engineers being 
so great that almost any one who could show a letter of recommenda- 
tion from a commander or chief engineer of a war-vessel, or from a 
civilian of prominence, could get an acting appointment. The ma- 
jority of the acting engineers were men who were really engineers, 
many of them being of recognized ability and reputation in their 
line, who entered the service from motives of patriotism, and natur- 


ally chose the engineering branch of the navy in preference to wad- 
ing through the mud, either with or without a sword, in the army. 

Numbers of the volunteer engineers were men who belonged to 
the profession of civil engineering and were attracted to the en- 
gineer corps of . the navy by the similarity of names, when they 
made up their minds to enter the military service of the govern, 
ment. These gentlemen, with possibly a few exceptions, began 
with no practical knowledge of marine machinery, but with their ex- 
cellent training in matters relating to civil engineering they were 
quick to learn and in a short time became among the best acting 
engineers. Several of them entered the regular service by taking 
the prescribed examinations and, both during the war and since, 
have been professionally prominent in the corps. As was often the 
case in, the army, many men of education and ability served in sub- 
ordinate positions in the navy solely because they wished to serve 
their country in its day of need, and such men were generally ap- 
preciated and promoted to official positions after short periods of 
faithful service as subordinates. A case in point is that of Mr. P. 
J. McMahon, a civil engineer employed on the Boston and Worces- 
ter Railway, who was a personal friend of the chief engineer of the 
San Jacinto, and was very desirous of going to sea with him as an 
acting engineer. The plan was prevented by the San Jacinto hur- 
riedly going to sea at a time when her complement was filled, with 
the exception of one coal heaver, but Mr. McMahon was determined 
to go, and accordingly took the vacant billet. He cheerfully did 
duty as a fireman, oiler and yeoman until, in about a year, he re- 
ceived the coveted warrant as an acting third assistant engineer; 
promotion to second assistant came not long afterward, and the 
close of the war found him a first assistant in charge of the machin- 
ery of the Mahaska; 

Mr. McMahon's predecessor as engineer in charge of the 
Mahaska furnishes a curious example of motive, in seeking service 
in the volunteer engineer corps. The Atlantic Works of Boston did 
a tremendous business from the very beginning of the war in build- 
ing ships and machinery for the navy, and when the owners found 
themselves getting rich by staying at home they came to the very 
proper conclusion that some one having a proprietary interest in the 
business must represent the patriotism of the firm by going to the 


war. Accordingly, the proprietors cast lots and Mr. Philander S. 
Brown was elected to go to the front. He chose the engineer corps 
of the navy for his field of usefulness, asked for, and received a 
warrant as acting first assistant engineer, and served as chief 
engineer of the Mahaska until the war was over, when he resigned 
and returned to his home and business interests. 

As might be expected, and as often occcurred in the other 
branches of the navy, some acting appointments were given to men 
who were unqualified for the duties they were expected to perform 
on board a war steamer. Adventurers who saw in the seven hun- 
dred and fifty dollars per annum of the "Acting Third" in the navy 
more attraction than was offered by thirteen dollars per month and 
found in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac ; firemen recom- 
mended by their captains for some gallant or meritorious act ; sons 
or friends of prominent military and civil officials; subalterns 
disgusted with the Chickahominy swamps, and many other classes 
too numerous to mention, all had their representatives in the volun- 
teer engineer corps. As there were from four to ten engineers on 
each war steamer in those days, the presence of one of these inex- 
perienced persons was not dangerous, as he was always under the 
eye of some one who was able to prevent disaster by interfering in 
case of necessity. When a number of them happened to get 
shuffled together, as sometimes occurred, and thus obliged to try to do 
something without being told how to do it, they generally came to 
grief, as is attested by innumerable tales in the service. 

One of these stories relates to the wearing away of the valve 
faces and seats of the engine of one of the new sloops-of-war on 
one of her first sea trips. The acting engineer in charge of the 
machinery had been in the regular service and was a competent en- 
gineer, but, unfortunately for the vessel, he was confined to his 
room by illness on the voyage referred to. Of the four acting as- 
sistant engineers, one only had any experience with machinery 
and that was limited to fire-room work, he having been a fireman 
promoted as a reward for some act of bravery in an emergency ; his 
scholastic attainments were extremely limited and stopped short at 
the problem of subtracting the hourly records of the engine-room 
counter and dividing the remainder by sixty to find the average 
revolutions of the engines per minute, a problem that he never 


mastered, and which finally drove him back into the fire-room, where 
he found more familiar tools to handle than pencils and paper. 
This case had numerous parallels in the line as well as in the en- 
gineer corps during the war, and is a good illustration of the folly 
of making officers of enlisted men simply as a reward for gallantry 
in battle, without any regard for the fitness of the person to perform 
the duties of the office to which he is advanced. 

Another of the acting engineers was a village schoolmaster 
from the up-country of New Hampshire, whose knowledge of 
marine engines had been obtained from a picture of a condensing 
engine in Olmstead's "Principles of Natural Philosophy," at that. 
time a favorite text book in the country schools of New England. 
The third one was a youth of about seventeen, who had been the 
schoolmaster's favorite pupil in the New Hampshire village, and 
who had joined him in the enterprise of suppressing the rebellion 
through the medium of the naval engineer corps. The fourth acting 
engineer had gained such engineering knowledge as he possessed 
by having been the captain of a tug boat. Although well meaning 
and inspired with a desire to do their best, these amateur engineers 
in some way managed to overlook in turn the necessity of having 
the steam chests oiled, and, as a result, the valves and seats at the 
end of the trip were found to be reduced to little more than a heap 
of iron filings, and the ship was kept from active service many 
weeks in consequence while damages were being repaired. 

Another incident which occurred about the same time was not 
the source of any great amount of delight to the acting engineers 
directly concerned. A war steamer left New York for the seat of 
war one fine day, the commander and all hands indulging in high 
hopes of glory and prize money. After a few hours at sea the 
engine suddenly stopped, and then began running backward at a 
furious rate; do what they would, the engineers could not coerce 
the engine into going ahead again, and finally the captain had to 
ignominiously abandon his cruise and take his ship, tail first, back 
to New York, an object of surprise and derision to the watermen of 
that busy seaport. The navy yard was reached in the course of 
time, where a few vigorous remarks from the chief engineer of the 
yard and about two minutes work put everything to rights. The 
eccentric had slipped. 







The volunteer engineer who was not an engineer did not always 
get into trouble, as is shown by the successful experience of one 
Don Carlos Hasseltino, whose remarkable naval career is worthy of 
a little space in the history of the naval engineering of the rebellion. 
This gentleman was a native of the West Indies, but had graduated 
at a college in Ohio, and at the time of the outbreak of the war was 
reading law in Hamilton, Ohio. His sympathies being with the 
South, he went to Montgomery, Alabama, and entered the Confed- 
erate army, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in about two 
years, when he fell into the hands of the enemy in the vicinity of 
.Fort Donelson. Pretending to be a civilian and a foreigner, which 
he could easily do by his ability to speak French, he succeeded in 
getting a pass from the Union officer in command at Memphis, and 
went to St. Louis, not knowing just why he was going there or what 
he would do next. 

In the streets of St. Louis he chanced to meet a former college 
mate who was an assistant engineer on one of the gunboats in the 
Mississippi River. This friend urged him to give up the Confeder- 
ate cause and enter the navy as an engineer, to which proposal he 
demurred, as he said he "did not know a steam engine from a horse 
power, " but his friend assured him that did not make any dif- 
ference. Accordingly, and knowing that he would probably be 
hsnged as a spy if his connection with the South were discovered, he 
studied some of the assistant engineer's books for a few weeks and 
then presented himself to the authorities as a candidate for the en- 
gineer corps. He made such a good impression that he was given 
an acting appointment as a first assistant engineer, and was ordered 
to duty on board the Essex, then the flag-ship of Rear-Admiral 
D. D. Porter. 

According to Mr. Hasseltino's account of himself,his great fear 
at this time was that the Essex would be ordered to get under way 
to go somewhere, and he would consequently be called upon to do 
something with the machinery, which he knew he could not do, his 
mechanical knowledge being yet so imperfect that he thought the 
feed-pump was a contrivance for making the vessel go sidewise. 
But luck was on his side, for he had opportunities to talk with Ad- 
miral Porter, and so impressed that distinguished officer with his 
professional worth that he was put upon the Admiral's staff and as- 


signed to important special duty in connection with the building and 
inspection of ironclads at various points on the Mississippi River. 
A report made by him to the admiral respecting the value of certain 
types of ironclads for river service was considered so meritorious 
that the admiral embodied it in his report to the Secretary of the 
Navy, and that official in turn transmitted it to Congress in his an- 
nual report. 

In May, 1864, after less than a year's service, Mr. Hasseltino 
was made an acting chief engineer, in which capacity he continued 
on duty with the Mississippi flotilla; two years later, in May, 1866, 
he was honorably mustered out of the service. Subsequently he 
acquired the title of general and considerable wealth by engaging 
in various wars in Chile, Peru, and Cuba, but with this we need not 
deal here. Acting Assistant Surgeon J. M. Batten has written an 
interesting little volume of reminiscences of his service in the navy 
during the war, in which book occurs the following account of the 
person whose versatile career has just been described: 

" Don Carlos Hasseltino was chief engineer of the United 
States monitor Catawba, but spent most of his time ou board the 
United States monitor Oneota,and was one of the messmates of that 
vessel. I associated with him constantly from October 6, 1865, to 
January 16, 1866. He was a jolly, kind, sympathetic and intelli- 
gent associate. In height he was about six feet, and had a large, 
wiry frame. His hair and eyes were black; he wore a black mus- 
tache. He never gave offense to any one, but would not suffer 
himself to be insulted. He carried two Derringers in leather 
pockets buttoned to his pantaloons above the hips. He was very 
polite and chivalrous; woe to the person that gave offense or offered 

The progress made in increasing the fleet during the year 1861 
was phenomenal. Mr. George D. Morgan of New York was ap- 
pointed a special agent of the Navy Department with orders to buy 
every American merchant vessel found at all suitable for war purpo- 
ses, in the selection of which he was aided by a board of officers of 
the navy — a constructor, a chief engineer, and an ordnance officer. 
This board had a small steamer in New York harbor and made a 
business of boarding and examining every American vessel within 







S 1 






































reach, a favorable report on any vessel making it obligatory on Mr. 
Morgan's part to, buy the vessel at the best bargain he could make 
with the owners. As Mr. Morgan received a commission of two and 
one-half per cent, on his purchases this obligation to buy, was for 
him, a decidedly good thing. From the middle of July until the first 
of December there were purchased in this manner thirty-six side- 
wheel steamers aggregating 26,680 tons and costing $2,418,103; 
forty-three screw steamers aggregating 20,403 tons and costing $2,- 
215,037, and one hundred and eighteen sailing vessels — ships, barks 
and schooners — at a cost of $1,071,898. Sixty of these latter were 
loaded with stone and sunk for the purpose of closing some of the 
southern ports; the others, and all of the steamers, were converted 
into war vessels and put into active service. 

At the same time that merchant vessels were being pressed into 
service, the navy yards and private ship and engine building estab- 
lishments were worked to their utmost capacity in building war ves- 
sels. By the end of the year, fifty-two such vessels were entirely 
completed and in service or were well along in construction. None 
of the navy yards were then equipped for the building of engines on 
a large scale, which work therefore had to be let out by contract to 
marine engine builders, the machinery specifications in the majority 
of cases being furnished by the Navy Department from designs of 
Engineer-in-Ohief Isherwood. Excellent plants for building wooden 
ships existed at the navy yards and many of the hulls of these rapid- 
ly constructed vessels were built by the Government at the different 
yards while their machinery was under construction at neighboring 
machine shops. 

The ship and engine building work of the Navy Department 
now assumes such magnitude that space forbids the practice previously 
observed in these pages of giving detailed information as to the de- 
signers and builders of the various vessels, their machinery, arma- 
ment, cost, and subsequent naval careers, although it is hoped that 
the value of this work will be enhanced by its appendix, in which 
much of the information referred to is given in tabular form. Hence- 
forth it will be necessary to refer to new vessels in general terms 
only, except in certain special cases where peculiarities of design or 
remarkable engine performance occasion so much interest from an 
engineering point of view that a more detailed history of their origin 
is desirable. 


In February, 1861, Congress authorized the construction of 
seven sloops-of-war, and the Navy Department, to take advantage 
of the plans already in its possession of the sloops built in 1858, 
duplicated the Iroquois in the Oneida, the Wyoming in the Tusca- 
rora, the Mohiccm in the LCearsarge, and the engines of the Seminole 
in the Wachusett. These vessels were of about 1,560 tons displace- 
ment. By subsequent action of Congress, at the special session, 
authority was granted to build other sloops of war, similar to those 
previously ordered, making fourteen in all, and work on them was 
begun in the early fall of the year. These sloops-of-war, besides 
those already named, were the Juniata, Ossipee, Adirondack, Sous- 
atonic, Sacramento, Canandaigua, Lackawanna, Ticonderoga, Shen- 
andoah, and Monon.gafi.ela. The first four named were of 1,934 
tons displacement, and the other six, differing somewhat in size 
from each other, were of about 2,200 tons. The hulis of all four- 
teen were built by the Government at the navy yards, three each at 
Portsmouth, N. H., and Boston, and four each at New York and 
Philadelphia, the machinery being built by contract at various 
places in New England, New York and Philadelphia. 

These fourteen steam sloops were large, handsome vessels and 
did much excellent service during the war and afterward. The only 
one still remaining in the service is the Monongahela, which, with 
her machinery removed, is used as a training ship in which naval 
cadets and apprentice boys acquire those arboreal habits supposed to 
be essential in the training of modern men-of-war's men. With the 
disappearance of this class of vessels we have suffered what the 
author regards as a most serious loss in the removal from the navy 
list of those sonorous and distinctively American names, like Can- 
andaigua, Oneida, Lackawanna, Tuscarora, Shenandoah, and the 
like, which were sufficient in themselves to proclaim the nationality 
of the vessel bearing them, and at the same time precluded by their 
derivation from adoption by foreign navies, except inappropriately. 
Oui- Ajax, Dolphin, Petrel, Vesuvius, and others, always have their 
namesakes in other navies, and imply a poverty of resource on our 
part wholly undeserved in view of the great multitude of beautiful 
and euphonious words that have become part of our American lan- 
guage in the names the vanished tribes of aborigines gave to their 
hills and forests, rivers and lakes. 



& 3 






Before work on the fourteen sloops heretofore named had been 
undertaken, the Navy Department, acting on its own responsibility 
in the emergency, without waiting for the sanction of Congress, 
issued proposals and entered into contracts with different builders 
for the construction of twenty-three small, heavily-armed screw gun- 
boats, of about 500 tons burden, which, from the rapidity of their 
construction came to be known in the service as ' ' ninety-day gun- 
boats. ' ' The contracts were nearly all made during the first two 
weeks in July, and work was pushed to such an extent that four of 
them were in the battle of Port Royal on the seventh of November, 
and seventeen of them were in active service before the end of the 
year. Their names were: Huron, Sagamore, Itasca, Sciota, Ken- 
nebec, Kvneo, Aroostook, Chippewa, Cayuga. Chocura, Kanawha, 
Katahdin, Marblehead, Ottawa, Owasco, Pembina, Penobscot, Pin- 
ola, Seneca, Tahoma, Unadilla, Wissahiclcon, and Winona. 

The machinery of the first four named was constructed by the 
Novelty Iron Works, New York, which establishment duplicated in 
them the machinery it had previously put into two gunboats 
built for the Russian government. The machinery for the other 
nineteen was built by various contractors from designs and specifi- 
cations furnished by Engineer-in- Chief Isherwood, and was some- 
what similar to that of the first four, but with about sixty per cent, 
more boiler power. The hulls of all these gunboats were built by 

For service in shallow and narrow rivers a new and peculiar 
type of gunboat was developed in the " double-enders, " twelve of 
which were begun during the summer and fall of 1861. These were 
pointed at both ends and had a rudder at each end, being thus 
freed from the necessity of turning around by being able to steam 
at equal advantage in either direction. Paddle wheels had become 
practically obsolete for war vessels, but the imperative demand for 
very light draft in these gunboats made it necessary to adopt side 
wheels for their propulsion. They were the Maratanza, Mahaska, 
Sebago, Octorora, Sonoma, Conemaugh, Tioga, Genessee, Miami, 
Paul Jones, Port Royal, and Cimmerone. They were of 850 tons 
burden. The engines were built by contract from Mr. Isherwood 's 
plans, and were of the direct-acting inclined type. All had Bartol's 
vertical water tube boilers, except the Paul Jones, which had Mar- 


BARTOI.'S VKKTUM. WATKR-TII1K lit .| I l.l;. I'SKll IN l»n l;il. IMWi- OF THE "<XTORORa" CLASS. 


tin's boilers. All had blowers for forcing the draft. The hulls of 
the last three-named were built by contract, and the other nine in 
the navy yards. 

Besides the forty-nine steamers already referred to, three iron- 
clad war vessels were undertaken during this same busy year. 
These, being a new departure in naval construction and marking a 
development in that direction exactly in line with the naval engin- 
eer's profession, will be described in a separate chapter. To quote 
from the report of the Secretary of the Navy regarding the war- ship 
building of the year, "No sailing vessels ha^e been ordered to be 
built, for steam as well as heavy ordnance, has become an indispens- 
able element of the most efficient naval power." 


" I have seen him in the watch-ares of a hundred circling camps; 
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps ; 
I have read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps ; 

His day is marching on." 
Julia Wakd Howe — Battle-Hymn of the Republic. 

1861. The Civil War, Continued— The Norfolk Navy Yard— Attempt to Save the 
Frigate Merbimac— Endeavors of Engineer-in-Chief Isherwood— Destruction 
of the Yard — Attack on Hatteras Inlet — Destruction of the Privateer Judah 
at Fensacola. 

WITH the exception of two events in the career of the frigate 
Chesapeake early in the present century, there are few inci- 
dents in our naval history more humiliating than the loss of several 
of our national vessels at the Norfolk navy yard at the beginning 
of the rebellion. So utterly lacking is this affair in redeeming fea- 
tures that it would be gladly passed over without comment were it 
not for the fact that the principal efforts to save the nation's honor 
and property on that occasion were the outcome of the zeal and pa- 
triotism of two naval engineers, and for that reason the story must 
be told as a necessary part of this history. 

The navy yard at Norfolk, Virginia, at the beginning of 1861 
was the largest and most important of the government navy yards. 
It was one of the oldest in date of establishment and the most com- 
pletely equipped with wharves, docks, ship-houses, workshops, and 
store-houses. Great quantities of naval material and stores had been 
assembled there prior to the outbreak of 'the rebellion, among other 
war material there being about twelve hundred cannon of various 
types, mostly serviceable, although some of the guns were of very 
ancient patterns; fifty-two. according to the inventory made by the 
Confederates immediately after they took possession of the yard, 
were new nine-inch Dahlgren guns, at that time formidable pieces 
of ordnance. 

At the beginning of April, 1861, the following named vessels 
were lying at the Norfolk Yard: the new steam frigate Merrimac, of 


forty guns; the sloops-of-war Oermantown and Plymouth, oi twenty - 
two guns each; the brig Dolphin, of four guns; the old ships-of-the. 
line Pennsylvania, Delaware and Cohi/mbus; the frigates United States, 
Raritan and Columbia; and the sloop-of-war Cumberland. An un- 
finished ship-of-the-line named the New York was on the stocks in 
one of the ship houses. The Merrimac was one of those large and 
beautiful steam frigates of which the Navy was then so justly proud. 
She had made one cruise, as flagship of the Pacific Station, and had 
been laid up in the Norfolk yard for an extensive overhauling of her 
machinery. The sloops Germantown and Plymouth were completely 
equipped for sea, but had no crews on board, and the Dolphin could 
have been made ready for sea in a few hours. The frigate United 
States was the same vessel, rebuilt, that had defeated and captured 
the British frigate Macedonian in 1812. The Pennsylvania was in 
commission as the receiving ship and was famous as being the largest 
ship-of-the-line ever built for our navy, mounting one hundred and 
twenty guns and being rated as of 3,241 tons, old measurement, which 
is little more than one-half the present rating by tons displacement. 
The other large battle ships of that time — the North Carolina, Ver- 
mont and others — carried eighty-four guns and were of about 2,600 
tons. The Cumberland was the flagship of the home squadron and 
had just arrived at the yard after the usual winter cruise in Southern 
waters. She was saved from the destruction that followed, but less 
than a year later was destroyed by the Merrimac, which vessel by 
all rights should have been the one to have towed her and the other 
sailing vessels to a place of safety. 

The navy yard was commanded by Captain Charles S. McCau- 
ley, a native of Pennsylvania, who, according to the custom then 
prevailing, was addressed as Commodore. The twelve other line 
officers associated with him were natives of southern states, seven of 
them being Virginians; three of the four medical officers were Vir- 
ginians, and a majority of the other staff and warrant officers was 
likewise of southern nativity. These officers had been assigned to 
this station by the previous administration and the fact that the pre- 
ponderance of southerners among them was so great makes it reas- 
onably certain that there was more method than chance in their 
selection. The Chief Engineer of the yard, Mr. Robert Danby, was a 
native of Delaware and could be depended upon to stand by his 


colors, for the inhabitants of that little State have been distinguished 
for loyalty and patriotism ever since the ' 'Blue Hen's Chickens, ' ' 
as the Delaware Regiment was called, made such an enviable record 
in the Continental Army. 

One of the first acts of the new engineer-in-chief was to call 
the attention of the Secretary of the Navy to the possibility of get- 
ting the Merrimac away from Norfolk, and it is certain that had it 
not been for him no effort to that end would have been made. The 
Secretary's mind was engrossed with too many other important 
matters to give any thought to this particular subject unless it had 
been urged upon him and, indeed, it is more than probable, as he 
had been in office less than one month, and that month a most harras- 
sing one, that he did not even know that the Merrimac was at Nor- 
folk. Mr. Isherwood was familiar with the Norfolk yard and as 
the work on the Merrvmac's machinery was an important detail of 
his office, the subject of saving the ship naturally suggested itself 
to his mind. By corresponding with chief engineer Danby, Mr. 
Isherwood had learned of the exact state of affairs, including the 
information that the Confederates counted surely on having the 
Merrimac as a nucleus for their future navy, which intention Mr. 
Isherwood determined to defeat if possible. With this knowledge 
he repeatedly urged Secretary Welles to order the removal of the 
ship and finally, on the 11th of April, orders were issued looking 
towards removing the Merrvmac to Philadelphia, but about this 
time discouraging news came from Norfolk in the form of an 
official report saying that it would take a month to get her machin- 
ery in condition to move. This estimate of time was so different 
from the private information received from the chief of the yard 
that misrepresentation was evident and Mr. Isherwood at his own 
urgent request was ordered to go to Norfolk in person, take full 
charge of the Merrimac, and get her ready as soon as possible. He 
carried a peremptory order to Commodore McCauley to place the 
ship entirely in his hands, which order contained among other 
directions these words: 

' ' The Department desires to have the Merrimac removed from 
the Norfolk to the Philadelphia Navy Yard with the utmost des- 
patch. The Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. B. F. Isherwood, has been 
ordered to report to you for the purpose of expediting the duty, 



and yon will have his suggestions for that end promptly carried 
into effect. ' ' 

Mr. Isherwood arrived at the yard on Sunday morning, April 
14th, and immediately, in company with Mr. Danby, made a most 
thorough examination of the Merimac's condition; the machinery 
was completely dismembered and many parts of it scattered about 
the shops, but nothing of importance was in such bad condition as 
to forbid its temporary use. The Navy yard employes had prev- 
iously abandoned their places, but as many of the machinists and other 
mechanics were known to Mr. Isherwood and as Mr. Danby had been 
popular with them, those two officers succeeded that Sunday afternoon 
and evening in inducing a considerable number of them to resume 
work for a time. The force thus obtained began work Monday 
morning and worked night and day, being divided into three eight- 
hour gangs. Messrs. Isherwood and Danby relieving each other 
every twelve hours and exercising the most minute supervision over 
every detail, for they did not wish any mistakes to be made. On 
Wednesday afternoon Mr. Isherwood had the satisfaction of report- 
ing to the Commandant that he was ready to get up steam. Com- 
modore McCauley was seemingly startled by the suddenness of the 
preparation, after he had reported that a month's time would be 
necessary for the work that now appeared to have been done in 
three days, and when asked for authority to start fires hesitated and 
finally said, that the next morning would be soon enough, which 
order the engineers took the utmost advantage of by lighting the 
fires the very moment that midnight had passed. The follow- 
ing, from Boynton's history of the navy, gives an account of 
what followed with as much detail as is presented in any of the 
various historical accounts of this affair: 

"About 9 o'clock on Thursday morning the report was made 
to Commodore McCauley that the vessel was ready to proceed, 
when he replied that he had not yet decided to send the steamer 
out. It was in vain that he was reminded of the peremptory nature 
of the order which Mr. Isherwood brought from the Secretary of 
the Navy, -to get the Frigate out at the earliest possible moment and 
send her to Philadelphia; he only replied that in the course of the 
day he would let his decision be known. He seemed to fear that 


obstructions had been placed in the channel. He was told by those 
who were well informed thatlhe obstructions already there would 
be easily passed by the Merrimao, but that every night's delay 
would increase the danger. All this produced no effect. Early in 
the afternoon Mr. Isherwood again called upon Commodore Mc- 
Cauley, who then said that he had decided to retain the frigate, and 
ordered the fires to be drawn. He was again reminded of the per- 
emptory nature of the orders from the Navy Department, but it 
seemed to produce no impression; he had determined to retain her, 
and thus the noble frigate was lost." 

The writer has been at great pains to get at the real truth of 
this event and with that object in view has made a careful study of 
the various official reports and documents relating to the case, as 
well as making use of numerous histories which treat of naval 
operations during the Civil War. More recently he has been 
favored with a thorough and most carefully written account of the 
affair from the pen of the chief actor — Chief Engineer Isherwood — 
which throws light upon some of the dark places found in the usual 
accounts, and which will be made use of as this narrative progresses. 
The principal officers concerned in the event were called upon to 
testify before the Senate Committee which investigated the Conduct 
of the War, and, while they told the truth so far as they went, they 
told no more than was necessary, for at that time it would not have 
been either patriotic or politic, to have made some of the details 
public; and this restriction applies to a considerable extent even 

Commodore McCauley's conduct appears highly inconsistent 
with the theory that he was loyal to the Government and anxious to 
defend his country's honor, notwithstanding which all the evidence 
shows that he was both loyal and patriotic. At the time of this 
trouble he had been fifty-two years in the Navy, having lived all 
through that long and uneventful period following the war of 1812, 
which may well be called the Dark Age of our naval history, during 
which midshipmen grew to middle age before becoming lieutenants, 
and then remained in that grade until old age was actually upon 
them, before they rose to a position of individual responsibility. 
He was surrounded by younger officers who, as we have already 


Been, were southerners and who systematically deceived him by 
false rumors and imaginary difficulties, but, upon whom the 
Commodore depended entirely, never doubting their loyalty to him, 
until they actually deserted their posts of duty. 

In addition to the perplexities of the actual situation at the 
navy yard, the Commodore was hampered with political instructions 
from Washington which simply added to his bewilderment. There 
was a false hope that Virginia would not secede, and President Lin- 
coln was led to believe by arguments and influences that probably 
no one but himself ever knew, that an attitude of confidence and 
trust towards Virginia, on the part of the Federal Government would 
so concilitate the people that they would remain true to the Union. 
This in spite of the fact that Norfolk was full of armed men openly 
avowing their intention to seize upon the Navy yard, and that the 
Virginia authorities had begun obstructing the channels and placing 
guns to oppose the egress of any of the national vessels. So com- 
modore McCauley was repeatedly cautioned not to do anything that 
might appear hostile, or provoking to the Virginians, and at the 
same time he was ordered to save the public property under his com- 
mand by any means in his power. 

All these contradictions and perplexities were too much for the 
Commodore to unravel, having spent the greater part of his life in a 
sphere where he only did what some one else told him to do, it is no 
wonder therefore, that the poor old man was unable to rise to the oc- 
casion. To his mind, long before narrowed to follow the one straight 
line of naval customs and precedents, ithe situation was most irregu- 
lar and wholly inexplicable. His common sense told him that the 
information that his subordinates gave him could not be true, and 
yet he accepted it as truth because he himself had always been true 
to his superiors, and naval laws explicitly required such loyalty. 
Never before had he heard people talk of taking posession of a navy 
yard, a place sacred by every tradition of the service to the imperi- 
al sway of the commandant; never before had navy yard workmen 
been known to leave their employment and refuse to return except 
as hostiles; never before had the majesty of a navy yard been 
outraged by officers walking out of the gates without leave, and with- 
out written orders properly endorsed by the commandant as re- 
quired by regulation. And then, as if to prove that all signs 


id, the infallible regulations themselves contained not a 
instruction as to what to do in case of insurrection and 

3d seizure of a navy yard. The fault was not with Com- 

McCauley, but with the system that had trained him. 
Isherwood thus graphically describes the pitiful situation 

iommodore at this trying time: 

tie Commodore was in a state of complete prostration. He 
i office immovable, not knowing what to do. He was weak, 
g, hesitating, and overwhelmed by the responsibilities of 
on. He listened blandly, or seemed to listen, to what was 
im, but could not be made to give any order or take any 
I kept reporting to him what I was doing and what I in- 
> do. He looked vaguely at me, nodded his head, but said 

He behaved as though he were stupefied. He was a 
i man, personally brave and loyal, perplexed in the ex- 
jserted by his officers, and utterly unequal to the occasion, 
ordinate he would have done well; as a principal he was a 

failure. I endeavored to advise him, to explain the 
the Department, and to make him understand the necess- 
itting the Merrimac out at once, and I told him we could 
t the same time several other vessels. I knew the Navy 
ild be in our possession but a few days longer, and wanted 
ill the public property I could, as well as to diminish the 
the enemy by preventing it from falling into their hands, 
in vain. I could not get him to do anything. He never 
r the vessel." 

r getting np steam Thursday morning Mr. Isherwood kept 
es running at the dock all day as a visible sign that the 
?as ready to go; he had got enough coal and stores on 

his own exertions (for no official of the Yard except Mr. 
ded him by word or deed during all this time) to take the 
Ear as Newport News where she would be safe. Knowing 
mander Alden, who had been ordered to take command of 

after her machinery had been put in working order, was 
jrith every obstacle that red-tapeism could suggest to pre- 
getting men, Mr. Isherwood had inquired among his 
i and found some who had been to sea, and these he de- 


tailed as wheelmen to steer the vessel. By lavish promises of pay 
he secured a sufficient number of the others to act as firemen, 
oilers, etc. and these men faithfully agreed to work the ship as far 
as Newport News, which promise they undoubtedly would have 
kept, as they needed the large sums offered them, and they were 
under many obligations to Chief Engineer Danby for liberal treat- 
ment when employed under him in the yard. Mr. Isherwood also 
on his own authority had the chain cables that secured the ship to 
the dock removed and replaced with rope hawsers and he had provided 
axes and stationed men with them to cut the hawsers when the 
word to go was given. Many other details of preparation were 
attended to by him and throughout the day the vessel was entirely 
ready to go out, which she could easily have done without a pilot 
as she was so light without coal, guns, or stores that she would 
easily have passed over the obstructions already in the channel. 
But the commandant would not say the word which would have 
authorized them to start. 

It is pertinent to say just here, that the orders to Mr. Isherwood 
gave him full and absolute authority over the ship until the engines 
were in condition to drive her; then Commander Alden was by his 
orders to assume command and take the ship to sea. Had this au- 
thority been vested in Mr. Isherwood the Merrimac would have 
been saved and the carnage that Hampton Boads saw the following 
March would never have been heard of. As it was, Mr. Isherwood 
had to resist a very strong temptation to take charge of tbe ship him- 
self, but he had been in the service too many years not to understand 
the full significance of the laws and regulations that declared staff 
officers not eligible to exercise command, and he felt that no meritor- 
ious result of such an assumption on his part, even if it were the 
saving of one of the finest ships in the Navy, would serve to excu- 
se his encroachment upon the prerogatives held as beloDging only 
to another class of officers. Mr. Isherwood himself writes as fol- 
lows relative to this perplexing crisis: 

" As I witnessed the gradual dying out of the revolutions of 
the Merrimac's engines at the dock I was greatly tempted to cut the 
ropes that held her, and to bring her out on my own responsibility. 
This would have been my destruction, for then, the disasters which 


followed her detention, and which are my justification for 
to take the matter into my own hands, would not have h; 

The last act in this miserable affair, when the co 
finally refused to allow the ship to leave and directed her 
hauled, is told by Chief Engineer Isherwood in a let 
writer, as follows: 

"Although I could not get the Commodore to tal 
cisive action I kept the engines working at the dock all da 
that he might be persuaded to carry out the plain intenti 
Department. Late in the afternoon, at our last intervie 
me to draw the fires and stop the engines as he had deci 
tain the vessel and meant to defend the yard. I looked ai 
amazement, went over the case again, urged the order 
desire of the Department, told him the inevitable conse< 
his decision, tried to show him the utter absurdity of atte 
defend an unfortified navy yard without men or any milit 
at command, for by this time he was absolutely alone. I 
brave, had a high sense of honor and duty and consic 
self bound to struggle to the last. If he had had the sma 
on which he could have depended he would have died gall 
I believe gladly, at its head, sword in hand against any o 
' ' Finding that I could not move him and that he wa 
impatient at my reiterated appeals I drew from my p 
order of the Department to me, wrote upon it the usua 
ment that having completed the duty assigned me to 
Washington, and laid it before him. He understood tl 
cance of the act, but signed the indorsement without a wo 
• great sorrow and chagrin I dismissed my men, waited un 
gines made their last revolution, when I left the navy 
have never seen it since." 

On Wednesday, the 17th of April, the State Con- 
Virginia had passed the Ordinance of Secession, so the 
excuse whatever on Thursday, for maintaining a pacific i 
the yard for fear of provoking the disloyal sentiment a 
inhabitants into open rebellion; the rebellion was already 


and the time for temporizing had passed. Why the Merrimac, with 
her engines working and a sufficient number of men on board to 
handle her, did not that day tow out to safety the other vessels is 
one of those speculative questions that cannot be satisfactorily 
answered. Like many other controversies over sins of omission in 
the past, this question is important chiefly on account of the disas- 
ters that followed in the footsteps of the first error, the knowledge 
of which was of course hidden at the time that its possession would 
haye incited action on the part of those whose failure it is now easy 
to criticise. 

Mr. Isherwood's work on the Merrimac was known to all in 
Norfolk, and naturally, was greatly resented by the populace, as it 
was a menace to the prospects of possessing the ship. In fact, only 
a week before, the Merrimac had been moved under the shears of 
the ordnance wharf to have her guns placed on board, and this act had 
raised such a howl of protest that the commandant had stopped the 
work and moved her back, so we can readily understand the feeling 
when it was known that her machinery was being fitted for use. A 
plot to capture Mr. Isherwood and hold him as a prisoner of war 
was hatched, and it was only by chance that he escaped falling into 
the hands of his country's enemies. Fortunately for him, a civilian 
in the town, who knew of the plot was his warm personal friend 
and this gentleman warned him of his danger. The friend engaged 
a room on the Baltimore steamer in the morning, in his own name, 
and took possession of it with Mr. Isherwood's trunk, going later with 
a closed carriage to the hotel and conveying the unwelcome guest to 
the steamer, where he remained locked in the room until the boat 
was well out in Chesapeake Bay. A party of Confederates waited 
for hours on the wharf for him to arrive, and only knew by going 
to the hotel after the steamer had left, that tneir enemy had out- 
witted them and escaped. After his return to the Department Mr. 
Isherwood made a short written report of his connection with the 
Merrimac, and the Secretary and himself never exchanged a word 
about it. It was tacitly understood that the subject was to be 
ignored, as one not politic for the public to know in the existing 
• state of high feeling and excitement, and it was ignored. 

Following closely upon the events before narrated, came the 
order to abandon the navy yard. Captain Hiram Paulding, in the 


steam sloop-of-war, Pawnee with one hundred marines i 
regiment of Massachusetts volunteers went up to the yard 
20 and found the Germantown, Plymouth, and Dolphw 
and rapidly sinking, which prevented him from carrying 
tention to use those vessels to defend the channel. Feelii 
yard was hopelessly lost, and not wishing to let anything 
fall into the hands of the enemy, he ordered the destructi 
of everything inflammable, and the work-shops, ship-hou 
of the ships, and numerous other buildings went up in s 
night. The guns were spiked and many of them pe 
ruined by knocking off the trunnions, but all efforts in thif 
failed with the Dahlgren guns and they afterward became 
weapons in the hands of the enemy. The wild scene of d 
was of unearthly awfulness and sublimity utterly ind€ 
The upper works of the Merrimac were burned away, bui 
merged portion of the hull remained intact and was sul 
used with terrible effect. 

As the morning of Sunday, the 21st, approached, tb 
took the Cumberland in tow and departed, leaving behin< 
tage of the soverignty of the United States. The Coi 
rushed in as the Union forces left, extinguished the train 
to blow up the granite dry dock, saved the officers' hi 
some other buildings, and thus provided themselves with tl 
for a great naval station. Thus was public property to th 
ten millions of dollars destroyed or lost to the Governmt 
of the vessels which escaped destruction that dreadful nig] 
historical old frigate United States, but her respite was 1 
in May of the following year, when the Confederates in tu 
abandon Norfolk, she, too, notwithstanding the glorious 
that clustered about her, was burned to ashes. 

In the latter part of August, 1861, an expedition pi 
the Navy Department, and commanded by Flag Officer S 
proceeded from Hampton Roads to attack Hatteras In! 
place had been fortified and armed with guns taken from 
folk navy yard. Two transport steamers, carrying about 
dred troops under the command of Major General Bei 
Butler, accompanied this expedition as a part of the con 
tacking force. The naval vessels composing the squadror 


steamers Minnesota, Wabash, Susquehanna, Monticello, Pawnee, 
and Harriet Lane, and the sailing frigate Cumberland. About 
thirty engineers of the navy were attached to these vessels and in 
their appointed stations performed their duties thoroughly and -well, 
keeping the motive power of their vessels in a constant condition 
of readiness and efficiency to meet any demand that the exigencies 
of the expedition might require. 

The squadron arrived off Hatteras on August 28, and imme- 
diately landed the soldiers and marines to attack the fortifications 
from the land, in conjunction with the bombardment from the ships 
which was maintained all the afternoon and resumed the morning of 
the 29th, ceasing only with the surrender of the enemy about 11 
a. m. that day. The most exciting event connected with this affair 
was a bad quarter of an hour experienced by the Monticello, during 
which she narrowly escaped destruction. This small steamer, after 
assisting in landing the marines and soldiers, was supplied with a 
local coast pilot by the flag-ship and ordered to go in through the 
inlet to see what was going on inside. The pilot, either by design 
or through ignorance, took her into the wrong channel and she 
began to strike bottom when in dangerous proximity to the forts, 
the shoalness of the water finally obliging her to abandon her under- 
taking and to try to work out to sea again. Seeing the Monticello. 
in this distress the large fort of fifteen guns, which had not 
molested her up to that time, opened on her with a furious cannon- 
ade, which was returned with the fire of such guns as could be 
brought to bear. By working the engines rapidly back and forth, 
to take advantage of the swell and eddying currents, the ship was 
finally turned around and worked out of her dangerous predicament, 
not, however, until she had suffered seriously from the merciless 
storm of shot and shell poured upon her. Her escape from destruc- 
tion was due in large measure to the skill and ability of the engineers 
under whose alert charge the machinery responded instantly to every 
movement required. Commander John P. Gillis, who commanded 
the Monticello at the time, in reporting this experience expressed 
his indebtedness to the acting chief engineer of the ship — Mr. 
George M. Waite — "for his care and promptness in the manage- 
ment of the engine." The assistant engineers of the Monticello at 
this time were Messrs. Jonathan Thomas and Columbus L. Griffin. 


On the night of September 13, the U. S. S. Color* 
off Fort Pickens, Florida, sent out an expedition in f 
against the navy yard at Pensacola then in possession of 
federates, the objects of the expedition being the destruct 
schooner Judah fitting out at one of the docks for a priv 
the spiking of a gun in battery at the southeast end of 
The party consisted of exactly one hundred officers, s« 
marines, the officers being Lieutenants Russell, Sproston, i 
Captain Reynolds of the marine corps; Assistant Surgeon 
Assistant Engineer George H. White, Gunner Boreton 
shipmen Steece, Forrest and Rigginson. 

The attack was made on the morning of the 14th at 
three o'clock. Instead of surprising the enemy, the cr 
Judah was found awake and ready to receive the expedit 
great damage with musketry fire as the boats approachec 
giving up their vessel until after a most desperate hai 
combat on the deck. The schooner being captured and e 
and the gun spiked, the naval expedition withdrew, f< 
time the yard was as busy as a hornet's nest and fully one 
Confederates were swarming for an attack. The Union 
three men killed and twelve wounded, among the latter t 
tain Reynolds of the marines and Midshipman F. J. JE 
who had the end of his thumb shot off. 

Assistant Engineer White's part in the exploits of 
is indicated by the following extracts from the official rep 

"In the meantime the vessel was set on fire in sevei 
That which finally consumed her was lighted in the cabin 
ant Engineer White and a coal-heaver Patrick Driscoll 
as a volunteer." 

"Assistant Engineer White brought down from the c 
of the schooner a man who had been seen to fire upon 
killing him instantly." 


"I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel ; 
'As ye deal with my contemners so with you my grace shall deal'; 
Let the Hero, born of woman , crush the serpent with his heel ; 
Since God is marching on." 
Julia Ward Howe — Battle Hymn of the Republic- 

1861. The Civil War, Continued. — Expedition of Flag Officer Du Pont to Port Royal. 
— Loss of the Governor. — Naval Battle at Port Royal. — Killing of Assistant 
Engineer Whittemore on the Mohican. — The Affair of the Trent. 

IN dividing the coast for convenience in maintaining the blockade 
proclaimed along the entire sea line of the insurgent states the 
limits of the South Atlantic blockading squadron were fixed at the 
boundary line between the Carolinas on the north and Cape Florida 
on the south. This region being far from aDy of the Union ports it 
became necessary to establish somewhere within its limits a harbor 
of refuge in heavy weather where a repair station and depot could 
be maintained. In order to seize such a place and hold it with a 
strong garrison a large combined army and naval expedition, com- 
manded by Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont and Brigadier General 
T. W. Sherman (not Wm. T. Sherman), was fitted out and sailed 
from Hampton Roads on the 29th of October. The frigate Wabash, 
Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, was the flagship, and the fleet, 
numbering forty-eight vessels including the troop ships, was the 
largest ever before assembled under our flag. A fleet of twenty- 
five schooners laden with coal was despatched the previous day 
under convoy of the sailing sloop of war Vandalia with orders to 
rendezvous at sea off Savannah. 

On November 1st the fleet was scattered by a furious gale from 
the southeast, approaching a hurricane in violence, and some of the 
vessels fared very badly, especially the transports which had been 
hurriedly purchased or chartered and in some cases were actually 
unseaworthy. The steamer Governor, in which was embarked the 
fine battalion of marines, foundered, and the marines with seven 
exceptions were rescued by the frigate Sabme and the steamer 


Isaac Smith, the latter vessel having been obliged to thi 
board her battery to save herself. The transport Peerless 
down and her people were taken off in boats under the na 
oris circumstances by the crew of the Mohican. 

The selection of the point to be captured was left ei 
the judgment of Flag Officer DuFont, who decided that Po 
South Carolina, was the best located and most suitable for 
for the blockading squadron. Accordingly as the vessels 
reassemble after the gale, the Wabash led them to the v 
that place and anchored off the bar during the day of Novi 
All buoys and other aids to navigation had been remov< 
enemy, which made it necessary to find, sound, and 1 
channel before any of the vessels could venture further, 
being several miles off shore. This work was done u 
direction of Mr. Boutelle the Assistant Chief of the Coast Sui 
was very familiar with the coast in this region and who was f o 
with the expedition in charge of a small steamer named th 
Late in the afternoon the transports drawing less than eigh 
of water and all the gun-vessels were sent to the anchorage 
Royal roadstead, the gunboats having a brush with two 
Confederate steamers under command of Commodore Ta 
"blood is thicker than water" fame, and drove them u 
shelter of the batteries on Bay Foint and Hilton Hea 
Beauregard and Walker). 

The next morning, November 5, the grave responsi 
hazarding the noble frigate Wabash in crossing the bar was 
by DuPont and that vessel, thanks to the careful wort 
Boutelle, was safely taken inside, followed by the side-wl 
ate /Stisquehanna and the deep-draught transports. Ir 
preparation for action was made but various delays, ami 
the grounding of the Wabash after getting into the roads 
curred and night came on before the fleet was ready, while 
westerly gale the following day again postponed the assaul 

On the morning of November 7 the fleet got under 
attack the forts, the order of battle comprising a main 
ranged in line ahead, and a flanking squadron to engage the 
vessels and prevent them from cutting off any of the vei 
might be disabled and fall out of action. The main squa 


made up of the Wabash, Susquehanna, Mohican, Seminole, Pawnee, 
Unadilla, Ottawa, Pembina, and the sailing-sloop Yandalia towed 
by the Isaac Smith; the flanking squadron was composed of the 
Bienville, Seneca, (Jurlew, Penguin, and Augusta. The battle was 
opened by a gun from Fort Walker at 9:26 a. m. and ended about 
2 p. m. ; the enemy abandoning his works with great zeal and pre- 
cipitation. Commander 0. R. P. Rodgers with a force of marines 
and blue jackets went ashore from the Wabash and took possession 
of Fort Walker and by nightfall a brigade of troops was landed 
and in possession. At sunrise the next morning Lieutenant com- 
manding Daniel Ammen of the Seneca landed and hoisted the 
American flag on Fort Beauregard. The forts were badly damaged 
by the furious cannonading to which they had been subjected, the 
terrific nature of which can be understood from the fact that the 
Wabash alone fired nearly nine hundred shells, besides grape and 

The foregoing briefly outlines the circumstances attending the 
taking possession of the forts by the Union forces, and is given in 
the usual form in which the event is recorded in history. The 
following extracts from Flag Officer DuPont's detailed report of 
the engagement furnish the foundation for the bestowal upon the 
distinguished Kodgers brothers of the honor of landing first and 
personally taking possession of Fort Walker: 

' ' I sent Commander John Rodgers on shore with a flag of 
truce. The hasty flight of the . enemy was visible, and was re- 
ported from the tops. At twenty minutes after two Captain Rod- 
gers hoisted the flag of the Union over the deserted post. At 
forty-five minutes after two I anchored and sent Commander C. R. 
P. Rodgers on shore with the marines and a party of seamen to 
take possession, and prevent, if necessary, the destruction of public 
property. ' ' 

" Commander John Rodgers, a passenger in this ship, going 
to take command of the steamer Hag, volunteered to act upon my 
staff. It would be difficult for me to enumerate the duties he per- 
formed, they were so numerous and various, and he brought to 
them all an invincible energy and the highest order of professional 
knowledge and merit. I was glad to show my appreciation of hi« 


great services by allowing him the honor to. hoist the first A 
flag on the rebellious soil of South Carolina." 

In large operations of this nature it is customary, and 
proper, to give credit for worthy deeds to the officer who coi 
the acts of his subordinates being assumed to be his owr 
actual details attending the landing at Fort Walker differ s< 
from the usual historical accounts, and have been learned 
author from some documents loaned him by Mr. Hillary M 
Superintendent of Motive Power of the Calumet and Heels 
Company, one of the most important papers being a letter 
in 1883 by Eear Admiral C. E. P. Rodgers, then on the reti 

It appears from these records that Third Assistant I 
Hillary Messimer of the Wabash, hereafter referred to as 
excited the admiration of his superior officers by his cooh 
attention to duty during the action while stationed at the 
room signal on the bridge, was selected by Flag Officer 
to take charge of an armed party of marines to land and sf 
guns in the fort should the enemy show any signs of rei 
Mr. Messimer' s party took, besides the necessary tools, an A 
flag with which he landed and was inside the works wi 
stationed at the guns ready to spike them before Command 
Rodgers set his foot on the shore. The latter officer sho 
from the Wabash when Messimer's boat was almost on sk 
his men about to jump overboard to land, in doing whid 
moments later Messimer took care to be first, although i 
closely by his men, and to him belongs the credit of being 
person from the Union force to land in this stronghold of the 
With his own hands, assisted by a marine corporal, Mr. 3/ 
hauled down the Confederate flags from the general and rej 
headquarters, after which, leaving a sergeant in command 
spiking party, he went down to the beach to meet Comms 
R. P. Rodgers then landing with a force of men from the 

After receiving and approving Messimer's report of 
had done, Commander Rodgers ordered him to go off to 
ship and deliver to Flag Officer DuPont the captured flags 
Confederate prisoners whom he had taken, and then to i 
the fort with the chaplain of the ship to bury the dead ; a 


■was done. A sword carried on board the Wabash wish the Confed- 
erate flags was afterward given to Mr. Messimer by Flag Officer Du- 
Pont with the complimentary remark, " You have earned it." 

This engagement furnishes one of the many striking instances 
illustrative of the division of families over the ssues which caused 
the Civil War. The Confederate commander of the works at Fort 
Royal was General Drayton brother of Commander Percival Dray- 
ton of the Federal navy, whose vessel, the Pocahontas, was so dis- 
abled in the gale on the voyage down that he did not arrive in time 
to be assigned a position in the order of battle, but he succeeded in 
reaching the scene of action about noon and rendered gallant serv- 
ice by engaging the batteries on both sides in succession, and aided 
materially in driving his brother and his men out of the works. 

Several of the vessels engaged were badly cut up by the fire 
from the forts and it was a matter of surprise, expressed at the 
time in the official reports, that the casualties under the circum- 
stances were not greater than they were. These amounted to eight 
killed and twenty-three wounded, seven of the latter severely. The 
only officer killed was Third Assistant Engineer John W. Whitte- 
more, of the Mohican, who was stationed on deck at the engine 
room telegraph where he was instantly killed by a solid shot com- 
ing through the hammock rail and driving before it a piece of an 
iron bolt or screw from the rigging which passed through bis head. 
Mr. Whittemore was the son of a celebrated Universalist minister 
of Boston, and was a highly cultured and accomplished young gen- 
tleman, whose New England spirit of patriotism had impelled him 
to enter the naval service in a capacity where he feit he could serve 
his country most usefully. He had been in the service less than 
three months at the time of his death, but in that short time his 
many admirable qualities had greatly endeared him to all who were 
associated with him. 

On the same vessel another assistant engineer, Mr. Mayland 
Cuthbert, narrowly escaped being killed while at his post of duty in 
the starboard gangway in charge of the fire division. A shot struck 
the main yard and cut the jack stay into pieces, one of which took 
an oblique direction downward, striking Cuthbert in the thigh and 
inflicting a frightful wound, in which the femoral artery was laid 
bare, but fortunately not cut. The vacancy on the Mohican caused 


by the killing of Whittemore was filled by transferring 
Engineer Absalom Kirby from the Pocahontas, which fa 
tioned because, by a curious coincidence, Mr. Kirby had 
escaped being killed in the action under the same circ 
leading to the death of Mr. Whittemore. He, also, was st 
the engine-room bell, which on the Pocahontas was attacl 
main mast, and while standing at his station a solid sh 
through the mast within a few inches of his head, show< 
with splinters but doing him no serious harm. 

Attached to the various steamers of the assaulting squa 
about seventy-five officers of the Engineer Corps, regulars 
unteers, all of whom acquitted themselves with great cre( 
their skilful performance of duty, contributed very materis 
success of the undertaking. The chief or senior engine 
different vessels engaged were the following: Wabash, J. 
Susquehanna, Geo. Sewell; Mohican, E. D. Robie, Semm 
Harris; Pawnee, W. H. Rutherford; Unadilla, Ed w. Man 
tawa, W. W. Dungan; Pembina, Jefferson Young; Isaac 
Tucker; Bienville, W. H. Wright; Seneca, J. W. de Kraff 
George R. Emory ; Penguin, M. P. Randall; Augusta, G 
Sloat. Mr. J. M. Hobby, who at a later period in the y 
ly distinguished himself as chief engineer of the Sassacu 
with the ram Albemarle, was, on this occasion, the first a 
the Susquehanna. 

That one at least of the vessels was kept in action by 
of her engineers is shown by the following extract from 1 
of the commanding officer of the Curlew: 

"Messrs Emory, Swasey, McConnell, and Loyds en 
the vessel, with great difficulties to contend against, in th 
unfitness of engine, boilers and condensing apparatus, fort 
service, managed to carry us through the action, for wh: 

Commander C. R. 1 J . Rodgers of the flag ship repor 
lows regarding the work of the engineers of that vessel. 

"The engine and steam, during the whole action, wen 
with consummate skill, which did great credit to Chief 
King and his assistants. Third Assistant Engineer Mess 


etood upon the bridge by my side during the action, impressed me 
very favorably by his cool intelligence and promptness." 

Flag officer DuPont also mentioned Mr. Messimer's excellence 
in his report of the battle, and in other reports of commanding offi- 
cers occur references from which one concludes that the engineers 
were very necessary officials and a part of the combatant element of 
the fleet. 

The affair of the Trent, on account of its international aspect, 
attracted probably more attention and wide-spread interest than 
any other single event connected with the operations of the Navy 
during the Civil War, and, as two officers of the engineer corps were 
prominently concerned, it is proper that a brief account be given 
in this work. The U. S. Steamer, San Jacinto, commanded by 
Captain Charles Wilkes, was employed the latter part of this year 
in cruising about the West Indies seeking for the Confederate pri- 
vateer Sumter, which had committed numerous depredations in those 
waters; the last day of October the San Jacinto went into the port 
of Havana, where Wilkes learned that Messrs Mason and Slidell, 
commissioners from the insurgent states to England and France, 
were about to sail from that port for St. Thomas on their way to 
Europe in the British mail • steamer Trent. These gentlemen with 
their families and secretaries had escaped from the blockade about 
Charleston in a famous swift blockade-runner, the Theodora, which 
had landed them at Cardenas in Cuba. Captain Wilkes was a grim, 
taciturn seaman of the old school, which had for its chief article of 
faith the celebrated sentiment of Stephen Decatur — "Our country! 
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the 
right; but our country, right or wrong," — so when he learned of the 
proposed expedition of the Confederate emissaries to preach disrup- 
tion of the Union abroad, there was, according to his lights, but one 
course of action to pursue, and that was, to intercept them, "right 
or wrong." 

With this determination in his mind Captain Wilkes went to 
sea on the 2nd of November, after having coaled ship in Havana, 
and for a day or two cruised along the northern coast of Cuba look- 
ing for the Sumter; then he went over to Key West hoping to find 
the Powhatan to accompany him on his intended enterprise, but 
that ship had gone to sea the day before, thus making it necessary 


for the San Jacinto to -watch for this Trent alone. The 
scheduled to sail from Havana or, the 7th of Noveml 
make sure of her, Wilkes went down the coast some t\ 
and forty miles to a place on the sea route to St. Thoma 
old Bahama Channel narrows to a width of fifteen mik 
San Jacinto arrived on ^November 4 and laid in wait f< 
with all the patience of a red Mohawk lurking sleeple 
trail over which his enemy might pass. About noon o 
8 the Trent ran into this fatal snare and was hove to 
thrown across her bows, after a shot had been disregard 

The interesting details of what happened when the 
boarded are given hereafter in the copies of official re] 
boarding officers. For the present it is sufficient to say 
Mason and Slidell, after refusing to leave the mail st 
man-handled and put into the boats of the San Ja* 
aboard that vessel as prisoners, and ultimately incarcer 
Warren, Boston Harbor. The Trent was allowed to 
voyage after the commissioners had been taken. After 
imprisonment Mason and Slidell were delivered to 
government in response to a demand not over gracioi 
Earl Russel. Captain Wilkes made a mistake in allowi 
to escape, for the weight of precedent, established by 
the British admiralty courts, was largely on the side ( 
that neutral vessels knowingly carrying officials or desp 
enemy were liable to capture and condemnation. ] 
principle of international law justified the act of taking 
sioners out of the vessel, and no nation but England 
sisted upon such a right; indeed, in 1812, the United 
gone to war with the mother-country in opposition 
doctrine involved in Wilkes' act. 

It is not probable, however, that Wilkes' technic 
international law in failing to take the Trent into por 
had any real effect upon subsequent events in the case 
cedure would have been entirely in accord with the 
rules of war, but the wave of popular indignation am 
swept over England when the passengers of the Irent 
with their tale, is- sulfiVlent proof that considerations 
right would not have a determining part in the action 


British Government. The United States, being fully employed in 
the task of suppressing the most gigantic rebellion that ever threat- 
ened a nation's life, could not engage in war with powerful neigh- 
bors disposed to seek it, and the demands made had to be acceded 
to whether agreeable or not. A few years later, when the rebellion 
was crushed, and the United States had a million armed men, hard- 
ened by years of campaigning both ready and willing for any ser- 
vice, and our navy, with five hundred vessels in commission, pos- 
sessed the heaviest iron-clads and the swiftest cruisers in the world, 
another controversey between England and our country ended in 
the former swallowing her pride, and accepting the decidedly hu- 
miliating terms imposed by an arbitration commission. The two 
events, considered singly or together, are an excellent illustration 
of the truth of the principle, that might more frequently than right 
determines the actions of nations as well as of men. 

The officers of the San Jacinto who boarded the Trent, 
although performing a duty in which they had no person al'concern, 
were treated with great contempt and indignity on board that vessel, 
and exhibited in return a spirit of forbearance and dignity highly 
creditable to them, and the service which they represented. The 
details of their experience on board the Trent are usually eclipsed 
by the more important complications growing out of the event; they 
are, however, most interesting as showing what naval officers some- 
times have to do in the line of their varied duties, and are here 
presented in the form of the reports made by the boarding officers. 

United States Steameb San Jacinto, 
At Sea, November 12, 1861. 

Sie: At 1:20 p. m., on the 8th instant, I repaired alongside of 
the British mail packet in an armed cutter, accompanied by Mr. 
Houston, second assistant engineer, and Mr. Grace, the boatswain. 

1 went on board the Trent alone, leaving the two officers in the 
boat with orders to await until it became necessary to show some 

I was shown up by the first officer to the quarter-deck, where I 
met the Captain and informed him who I was, asking to see the pas- 
senger list. He declined letting me see it. I then told him that I 
had information of Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustis, and Mr. 


McFarland having taken their passage at Havana in the 
St. Thomas, and would satisfy myself whether they wer 
before allowing the steamer to proceed. Mr. Slidell, evidi 
ing his name mentioned, came up to me and asked if I 
see him. Mr. Mason soon joined us, and then Mr. East 
McFarland, when I made known the object of my visit. 
tain of the Trent opposed anything like the search of his 
would he consent to show papers or passenger list. The 
tlemen above mentioned protested also against my arr< 
sending them to the United States steamer near by. Ther 
siderable noise among the passengers just about this time 
led Mr. Houston and Mr. Grace to repair on board with s 
eight men, all armed. After several unsuccessful efforts fc 
Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell, to go with me peaceably, I 
Mr. Houston and ordered him to return to the ship with 
mation that the four gentlemen named in your order of th 
atant were on board, and force must be applied to take tt 
the packet. 

About three minutes after there was still greater exci 
the quarter deck, which brought Mr. Grace with his arm 
I however deemed the presence of any armed men unnecei 
only calculated to alarm the ladies present, and directed ] 
to return to the lower deck, where he had been since first < 
board. It must have been less than half an hour after I be 
Trent when the second armed cutter, under Lieutenant Gr 
alongside, (only two armed boats being used). He broug 
third cutter eight marines and four machinists, in addition 
of some twelve men. When the marines and some armed 
been formed just out side of the main deck cabin, where 1 
gentlemen had gone to pack up their baggage, I renewed j 
to induce them to accompany me on board — still refusing t 
any me unless force was applied. I called in to my assisl 
or five officers, and first taking hold of Mr. Mason's shoul 
another officer on the opposite side, I went as far as the gf 
the steamer, and delivered him over to Lieutenant Gre 
placed in the boat. I then returned for Mr. Slidell, wh 
that I must apply considerable force to get him to go with rr 
in at last three officers, he also was taken in charge and ha 


to Mr. Greer. Mr. McFarland and Mr. Eustis, after protesting, 
went quietly into the boat. They had been permitted to collect 
their baggage, but were sent in advance of it under charge of Lieu- 
tenant Greer. I gave my personal attention to the luggage, saw it 
put in a boat and sent in charge of an officer to the San Jacinto. 

When Mr. Slidell was taken prisoner a great deal of noise was 
made by some of the passengers, which caused Lieutenant Greer to 
send the marines into the cabin. They were immediately ordered 
to return to their former position outside. I carried out my purpose 
without using any force beyond what appears in this report. The 
mail agent, who is a retired commander in the British navy, seem- 
ed to have a great deal to say as to the propriety of my course, but 
I purposely avoided all official intercourse with him. When I finally 
was leaving the steamer he made some apology for his rude conduct, 
and expressed personally his approval of the manner in which I 
had carried out my orders. We parted company from the Trent at 
2:30 p. m. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

D. M. Fairfax, 
Lieutenant and Executive Officer. 

Captain Charles Wilkes, U. S. N., 
Commanding San Jacinto. 

United States Steamer San Jacinto, 
At Sea, November 12, 1861. 

Sie: In accordance with your instructions I submit the follow- 
ing: On November 8th, between 1 and 2 p. m., I was ordered by 
Lieutenant Breese, acting executive officer, to shove off with the 
third cutter and go alongside the English mail steamer, which 
was then lying-to under our guns. In the boat with me were Third 
Assistant Engineer Hall, Paymaster's Clerk Simpson, Master's 
Mate Dahlgren, one sergeant, one corporal, and six privates, of 
marines; four machinists and the crew, consisting of thirteen men, 
the whole party being well armed. When I arrived on the steamer, 
I was met on the guard by Mr. Grace, with a message from Lieu- 
tenant Fairfax (who had preceded me on board) to bring the marines 
on board and station them outside of the cabin, which I did ; also to 



keep the spare men on the guard, and to have the boat'f 
readiness to jump on board if needed. As soon as the mai 
stationed, I had the space outside and forward of the cabin 
of passengers, and assumed a position where I could see 1 
Fairfax, who was then engaged in conversation with pers 
cabin. He shortly came out and told me to remain as I was. 
went back into the cabin, and in a few minutes returned 
Mason. He had his hand on his shoulder, and I think 
had his on the other one. He transferred Mr. Mason to 
had the third cutter hauled up, into which he got. Sh 
Mr. McFarland came out and got into the boat; I think h< 
accompanied by any of the officers. About this time I he; 
deal of loud talking in the cabin, and above all I heard i 
voice. I could not hear what she said. Mr. Fairfax appe 
having an altercation with some one. There was much 
created by the passengers and ship's officers, who were u 
kinds of disagreeable and contemptuous noises and remar 
Just then Mr. Houston came to me and said he thoi 
would be trouble. I told him to ask Mr. Fairfax if I sh< 
in the marines. He returned with an answer to bring thei 
that time I heard some one call out ' ' shoot him. " I 01 
marines to come into the cabin, which they did at quick 1 
they advanced the passengers fell back. Mr. Fairfax th€ 
the marines to go out of the cabin, which they did, Mr. 
the same time jumping out of a window of a state-rooi 
cabin, where he was arrested by Mr. Fairfax, and was th< 
by Mr. Hall and Mr. Grace to the boat, into which he g 
after Mr. Eustis came to the boat, accompanied by Mr. ¥ 
then, by his order, took charge of the boat and conveyed 
tlemen arrested, viz: Messrs. Slidell, Mason, McFai 
Eustis to the San Jacinto, where I delivered them over 
Wilkes. This was about 2 o'clock. I then returned to th 
when I reached her the baggage of the gentlemen ' 
brought up and sent to the San Jacinto. Soon after JV 
told me to send the marines and spare hauds on board, w 
He then left me in charge of our party and went on boar 
Jacinto. About 3 o'clock she ran under the Trent's si 
hailed and directed to come on board, which I did with 


ing Mr. Grace, Mr. Dahlgren and Mr. Hall, who came in another 

Yery respectfully, your obedient servant, 

James A. Grebe, 


Captain C. Wilkes, 

Commanding San Jaci/nto. 

P. S. I desire to add that it was about 1.35 p. m. when I 
went alongside the Irent. There were but two armed boats used 
during the day; a third boat, the crew of which were unarmed, went 
alongside during the detention. When I first went on board with 
the marines, and at intervals during my stay, the officers of the 
steamer made a great many irritating remarks to each other and to 
the passengers, which were evidently intended for our benefit. 
Among other things said were: "Did you ever hear of such an out- 
rage?" "Marines on board! Why, this looks devilish like 
mutiny." " These Yankees will have to pay well for this. " " This 
is the best thing in the world for the South; England will open the 
blockade. " " We will have a good chance at them now. " " Did 
you ever hear of such a piratical act?" "Why, this is a perfect 
Bull's Run!" "They would not have dared to have done it if an 
English man-of-war had been in sight." The mail agent, (a man in 
the uniform of a commander in the royal navy, I think) was very 
indignant and talkative, and tried several times to get me into a dis- 
cussion of the matter. I told him I was not there for that purpose. 
He was very bitter; He told me that the English squadron would 
raise the blockade in twenty days after his report of this outrage (I 
think he said outrage) got home; that the Northerners might as well 
give up now, etc. , etc. ' ' Most all the officers of the vessel showed 
an undisguised hatred for the Northern people and a sympathy for 
the Confederates. I will do the captain of the vessel the justice to 
say that he acted differently from the rest, being, when I saw him, 
very reserved and dignified. The oflicers and men of our party 
took no apparent notice of the remarks that were made, and acted 
with the greatest forbearance. 


Jab. A. Geeee. 


United States Steameb San 
At sea, November 13, 186 

Sir: In obedience to your order of the 11th instant, 
fully report: That upon going alongside of the Engli 
Trent, on the 8th of this month, Lieutenant Fairfax wen 
ordering the boatswain and myself to remain in the bo: 
minutes after this my attention was attracted by persons 
a loud and excited manner upon the steamer's upper dec 
considering its meaning the noise was repeated, which d 
to join Lieutenant Fairfax immediately on board, and 
surrounded by the officers of the ship and passengers, am 
I recognized Messrs. Mason, Slidell,and Eustis. The c< 
this time passes description. So soon, however, as h< 
heard, the mail agent (who was a retired lieutenant or c 
in the British navy) protested against the act of removi 
gers from an English steamer. Lieutenant Fairfax reqi 
Mason to go quietly to the San Jacinto, but that gentlen 
that he would "yield only to force;" whereupon I was 
our ship to report the presence of the above-named i 
together with Mr. McFarland, and ask that the remain 
force be sent to the Trent, after which I returned to her, 
ing the cabin, saw Mr. Fairfax endeavoring to enter M 
room, which was then prevented in a measure by the 
which prevailed in and around that gentleman's quarters, 
sengers (not including Mr. Mason, Slidell, Eustis or J 
were disposed to give trouble; some of them went so 
threaten, and upon Lieutenant Greer being informed by 
fact, he ordered the marines to clear the passage-way of 
but as Mr. Slidell had now come out of his state room t! 
window, where we could get to him, the order to the n 
countermanded by Lieutenant Fairfax. Mr. Slidell was 
the boat by Mr. Grace and myself, and no more forci 
than would show what would be done in case of neces 
Mason was taken in charge by Lieutenant Fairfax and Tl 
ant Engineer Hall. The two secretaries walked into tl 

While we were on board of the 2 rent many remarks 
reflecting discreditably upon us and the government of 


States. No one was more abusive than the mail agent, who took 
pains at the same time to inform us that he was the only person on 
board officially connected with her Brittanic majesty's government, 
who he said would, in consequence of this act, break the blockade 
of the southern United States ports. Another person, supposed to 
be a passenger, was so violent that the captain ordered him to 
be locked up. A short time before leaving the steamer I was in- 
formed by one of her crew that the mail agent was advising the cap- 
tain to arm the crew and passengers of his ship, which I immediately 
communicated to Lieutenant Greer. About 3:30 p. m. we returned 
to the San Jacinto. 

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. B. Houston, 

Second Assistant Engineer, 

U. S. Steamer San Jacinto. 
Captain Charles Wilkes, 


United States Steamer San Jacinto, 
At sea, November 13, 1861. 

Sir: — In obedience to your order of the 11th instant, I respect- 
fully make the following report of what came under my observation 
onboard the mail steamer Trent whilst hove-to under our guns on 
the 8th instant: 

I boarded the steamer in the third cutter, under the command 
of Lieutenant Greer. Immediately on reaching the steamer's deck 
I stationed four men (an oiler, assistant oiler and two firemen) who 
accompanied me, in the port gang- way. I then went into the cabin, 
where I saw Lieutenant Fairfax, surrounded by a large number of 
passengers and the officers of the ship. He was conversing with Mr. 
Mason, and endeavoring to get him to come peaceably on board this 
ship. Mr. Mason refused to comply unless by force, and taking 
hold of Mr. Mason's coat collar, gave an order, "Gentlemen, lay 
hands on him. ' ' I then laid hold of him by the coat collar, when 
Mr. Mason said he would yield under protest. I accompanied him 
as far as the boat, which was at the port gang- way. 

Returning to the cabin, Lieutenant Fairfax was at Mr. Slidell's 
room. After a short time Mr. Slidell came from his room through 


a side window. He also refused Lieutenant Fairfax's orde 
on board this ship, unless by force. I, with several of th( 
then caught hold, and used sufficient power to remove him 
cabin. He was accompanied to the boat by Second Assists 
neer Houston and Boatswain Grace. I then received an or 
both Lieutenants Fairfax and Greer to retain the boat unti 
Eustis and McFarland were found. I remained in the gai 
Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis and McFarland shoved off, 
ant Greer having charge of the gentlemen. 

There was a great deal of excitement and talking d 
whole time, the officers of the steamer endeavoring parti< 
thwart Lieutenant Fairfax in carrying out his orders. T 
used very harsh expressions toward us, calling us pirates 
expedition, etc. , and threatened to open our blockade in a f c 
At one time the officers and passengers made a demonstrati 
moment the marine guard came hastily in the cabin, but w< 
diately ordered back by Lieutenant Fairfax. 

As far as I am able to judge, everything was conduct 
part in a peaceable, quiet and gentlemanly manner, and 
markably so by Lieutenant Fairfax, who certainly had suffic 
to resort to arms. I remained aboard the Irent till aftei 
gage belonging to the gentlemen had been sent, and finallj 
to this ship with Lieutenant Greer. 

Most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Geo. W. Hall, 
Third Assistant Engineer, 
Captain Charles Wilkes, 

Commanding U. S. Steamer Sam Jacinto. 

Lieutenants Fairfax and Greer, who had such a co 
part in this affair, have both since made enviable recordi 
tinguished services in the navy, and have both risen to tb 
rear admiral; the former was retired in 1881 and died in 
1894. Hear Admiral Greer is also on the retired list no 
had the distinguished honor of being the senior officer of 
for some months before his retirement. Second Assistant 
Houston served his country faithfully throughout the war an 
from the naval service in July, 1865, to engage in busii 


has been eminently successful, having been a director, vice-presi- 
dent and president of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company for a 
long period of years, and only recently gave up active business to 
enter into the quiet enjoyment of a fortune which his talents have 
enabled him to amass during his busy life. Third Assistant Engi- 
neer Hall served faithfully throughout the rebellion and resigned 
from the service not long after the close of the war. 

The chief engineer of the San Jacmto was Mr. John Faron,who 
three years later was killed on board the le&wmseh with all five of 
his assistant engineers in the battle of Mobile Bay. 


"The man who goes into action in a wooden vessel is a fool, am 
sends him there is a villain." — Admiral Sir John Hat. 

1861. The Civil War, continued— The First American Iron Clads— The? 
Condemned by a Board of Naval Officers — Authority to Build Ai 
Conferred by Act of Congress — Beport of Board on Iron-Clad 
Galena, New Ironsides, and Monitor — Armored Vessels in 

AT the outbreak of the Civil War the United States had 
i\ war vessels, although the example of the unfinish 
battery and the presentation of plans for an armored floa 
by the Swedish- American inventor John Ericsson to tl 
Napoleon III. had resulted in the adoption of iron armc 
a limited extent. Three iron-plated floating batteries ha 
by the French in the Crimean War, and at the beginning 
1861 that nation had La Gloire and three other large wc 
frigates in commission, all sheathed with light iron armc 
teen others in process of construction. England also 1 
the field and had at sea the Warrior, Black Prince, Dej 
tance and Royal Oak, large armored steam-ships similar t< 
with sixteen other armor-clads in various stages of c< 
These British and French vessels were large full-rigged 
auxiliary steam power, dependent upon the wind fully 
upon steam for locomotion; their iron sides constituted tl 
ture wherein they resembled the Stevens' battery or the 
gested by Ericsson to Napoleon in 1854. 

A joint resolution of Congress approved June 24, 18 
the Secretary of the Navy to appoint a board to examine 1 
battery and ascertain the cost and time necessary for its 
and the expediency thereof. The board consisted of C 
Silas H. Stringham and William Inman, Captain T. 
Chief Engineer A. C. Stimers, and Joseph Henry, Esq 
of the Smithsonian Institution. The report of this boan 
until the end of the year, was adverse to the completior 


battery, and the project was then dropped, so far as the government 
waB concerned. 

An extra session of Congress was assembled by presidential 
proclamation July 4r, 1861, to which, the Secretary of the Navy 
made a report on the condition of the navy at that time. In this 
report the Secretary referred to the attention given by England and 
France to iron-clad war-steamers, and asked for authority to con- 
struct such vessels if an investigation by a competent board should 
show such construction to be advisable. Congress responded with 
liberality and promptness by an act, approved August 3, 1861, en- 
titled "An Act to provide for the construction of one or more 
armored ships and floating batteries, and for other purposes, ' ' it be- 
ing brief and to the point, as follows: 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of 
the Navy be, and is hereby authorized and directed to appoint a 
board of three skilful naval officers to investigate the plans and spe- 
cifications that may be submitted for the construction or completing 
of iron or steel-clad steamships or steam batteries, and, on their re- 
port, should it be favorable, the Secretary of the Navy will cause 
one or more armored or iron or steel-clad steamships or floating steam 
batteries to be built; and there is hereby appropriated, out of any 
money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of one 
million five hundred thousand dollars. 

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That in case of a vacancy in 
the office of engineer-in-chief of the navy the appointment thereto 
shall be made from the list of chief engineers. 

August 7, the Navy Department issued an advertisement ask- 
ing for bids from responsible persons for the construction of one or 
more iron-clad steam-vessels of war, either of iron or of wood and 
iron combined, for sea or river service, the advertisement giving in 
general terms the principal requirements. These were, that vessels 
proposed must be of not less than ten, nor more than sixteen feet 
draft; must carry an armament of from eighty to one hundred and 
twenty tons weight, with provisions and stores for from one hundred 
and sixty-five to three hundred persons, according to armament, for 


six'ty days, with coal for eight days; must have two masts 
rope standing rigging for navigating the sea. The lighte 
water, compatible with other requisites, was preferred, 
descriptions and drawings of vessel, armor and machinery 
quired, as well as estimates of cost and time for com 
the whole. Twenty-five days from date of advertisemem 
lowed for the presentation of plans. 

A naval board, composed of Commodore Joseph Sir 
modore Hiram Paulding, and Commander Charles H. I 
appointed on the eighth of August to examine carefull; 
submitted and report upon the same. The report of t' 
dated September 16, 1861, is both interesting and anstra 
many points of view, showing as it does the opinions ente 
the naval men of that period regarding armor, and its proba 
it also unfolds some of the rare schemes of inventors am 
who rushed to their country's succor. It follows in full: 


Navy Department, 
Bureau of Yards and Docks, Septembe 

Sir: The undersigned, constituting a board appointe 
order of the 8th ultimo, proceeded to the duty assigned ti 
accordance with the first section of an act of Congress, ap 
of August 1861, directing the Secretary of the Navy "to 
board of three skilful naval officers to investigate the plans 
fications that may be submitted for the construction or c 
of iron-clad steam-ships or steam batteries, and on the 
should it be favorable, the Secretary of the Navy will cau 
more armored or iron -clad or steel clad steamships or floa' 
batteries to be built; and there is hereby appropriated, o 
money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, the si 
million five hundred thousand dollars. ' ' 

Distrustful of our ability to discharge this duty, whic 
requires should be performed by three skilful naval office] 
proach the subject with diffidence, having no experienc 
scanty knowledge in this branch of naval architecture. 

The planB submitted are so various, and in many r< 
entirelv dissimilar, that without a more thorough knowled 


mode of construction and the resisting properties of iron than we 
possess, it is very likely that some of our conclusions may prove 

Application was made to the Department for a naval construc- 
tor, to be placed under our orders, with whom we might consult; 
but it appears that they are all so employed on important service 
that none could be assigned to this duty. 

The construction of iron clad steamships of war is now zealously 
claiming the attention of foreign naval powers. France led ; Eng- 
land followed, and is now somewhat extensively engaged in the sys- 
tem; and other powers seem to emulate their example, though on a 
smaller scale. 

Opinions differ amongst naval and scientific men as to the 
policy of adopting the iron armature for ships-of-war. For coast 
and harbor defence they are undoubtedly formidable adjuncts to 
fortifications on land. As cruising vessels, however, we are skepti- 
cal as to their advantage and ultimate adoption. But whilst other 
nations are endeavoring to perfect them, we must not remain idle. 

The enormous load of iron, as so much additional weight to the 
vessel; the great breadth of beam necessary to give her stability; the 
short supply of coal she will be able to stow in bunkers; the greater 
power required to propel her; and the largely increased cost of con- 
struction, are objections to this class of vessels as cruisers, which we 
believe it is difficult successfully to overcome. For river and har- 
bor service we consider iron-clad vessels of light draught, or floating 
batteries thus shielded, as very important; and we feel at this mo- 
ment the necessity of them on some of our rivers and inlets to en- 
force obedience to the laws. We however do not hesitate to express 
the opinion, notwithstanding all we have heard or seen written on 
the subject, that no ship or floating battery, however heavily she 
may be plated, can cope successfully with a properly constructed 
fortification of masonry. The one is fixed and immovable and 
though constructed of a material which may be shattered by shot, can 
be covered if need be, by the same or much heavier armor than a 
floating vessel can bear, whilst the other is subject to disturbances 
by winds and waves, and to the powerful effects of tides and currents. 

Armored ships or batteries may be employed advantageously 
to pass fortifications on land for ulterior objects of attack, to run a 


blockade, or to reduce temporary batteries on the shore 
and the approaches to our harbors. 

From what we know of the comparative advantages 
vantages of ships constructed of wood over those of i: 
clearly of opinion that no iron-clad vessel of equal displa 
be made to obtain the same speed as one not thus encur 
cause her form would be better " adapted to speed. He 
dimensions, the unyielding nature of the shield, detract 
in a heavy sea from the life, buoyancy and spring which 
of wood possesses. 

Wooden ships may be said to be but coffins for 
when brought in conflict with iron-clad vessels; but the s 
former, we take for granted, being greater than that of 
they can readily choose their position and keep out of r 

Recent improvements in the form and preparations 
tiles, and their increased capacity for destruction, have 
large amount of ingenuity and skill to devise means fc 
them in the construction of ships-of-war. As yet we kn< 
ing superior to the large and heavy spherical shot in its 
effects on vessels, whether plated or not. 

Rifled guns have greater range, but the conical she 
produce the crushing effect of spherical shot. 

It is assumed that 4£ inch plates are the heaviest ar 
going vessel can safely carry. These plates should be of 1 
and rolled in large, long pieces. This thickness of arm( 
lieved, will resist all projectiles now in use at a distar. 
yards, especially if the ship's sides are angular. 

Plates hammered in large masses are less fibrous 
than when rolled. The question whether wooden backi 
elastic substance behind the iron plating, will tend to re 
the frame of the ships from the crushing effect of a heavy 
is not yet decided. Major Barnard says: "to put an elast 
behind the iron is to insure its destruction. ' ' With all 
to such creditable authority, we may suggest that it is 
backing of some elastic substance (soft wood, perhaps is 
might relieve the frame of the ship somewhat from the ter 
of a heavy projectile, though the plate should not be frac 


With respect to a comparison between ships of iron and those 
of wood, without plating, high authorities in England differ as to 
which is the best. The tops of ships built of iron, we are told, wear 
out three bottoms, whilst the bottoms of those built of wood will 
outwear three tops. In deciding on the relative merits of iron and 
wooden-framed vessels, for each of which we have offers, the board 
is of opinion that it would be well to try a specimen of each, as both 
have distinguished advocates. One strong objection to iron vessels, 
which, so far as we know, has not yet been overcome, is the oxida- 
tion or rust in salt water, and their liability of becoming foul under 
water by the attachment of sea grass and animalcules to their bot- 
toms. The best preventive we know of is a coating of pure zinc 
paint, which so long as it lasts, is believed to be an antidote to this 
cause of evil. 

After these brief remarks on the subject generally, we proceed 
to notice the plans and offers referred to us for the construction of 
plated vessels and floating batteries. 

It has been suggested that the most ready mode of obtaining an 
iron-clad ship of war would be to contract with responsible parties 
in England for its complete construction; and we are assured that 
parties there are ready to engage in such an enterprise on terms 
more reasonable, perhaps, than such vessels could be built in 
this country, having much greater experience and facilities than we 
possess. Indeed, we are informed there are no mills and machinery 
in this country capable of rolling iron ty inches thick, though plates 
might be hammered to that thickness in many of our work-shops. As 
before observed, rolled iron is considered much the best, and the 
difficulty of rolling it increases rapidly with the increase of thick- 
ness. It has, however, occured to us that a difficulty might arise 
with the British government in case we should undertake to con- 
struct ships-of-war in that country, which might complicate their de- 
livery; and, moreover, we are of opinion that every people or 
nation who can maintain a navy should be capable of constructing it 

Our immediate demands seem to require, first, so far as practi- 
cable, vessels invulnerable to shot, of light draught of water, to 
penetrate our shoal harbors, rivers and bayous. We therefore favor 
the construction of this class of vessels before going into a more 
perfect system of large iron-clad sea-going vessels of war. We 


are here met with the difficulty of encumbering small ' 
armor, which, from their size, they are unable to bear. "VS 
less recommend that contracts be made with responsible 
the construction of one or more iron-clad vessels or batterii 
a draught of water as practicable, consistent with their weig 
Meanwhile, availing ourselves of the experience thu 
and the improvements which we believe are yet to be vm 
naval powers in building iron-clad ships, we would adv 
struction, in our own navy yards, of one or more of th 
upon a large and more perfect scale, when Congress sha 
authorize it. The amount now appropriated is not suffic; 
both classes of vessels to any great extent. 

We have made a synopsis of the propositions and s] 
submitted, which we annex, and now proceed to state, ii 
result of our decisions upon the offers presented to us. 

J. Ericsson, New York, page 19. — This plan of at 
tery is novel, but seems to be based upon a plan which 
the battery shot and shell proof. We are somewhat a] 
that her properties for sea are not such as a sea-going v( 
possess. But she may be moved from one place to anol 
coast in smooth water. We recommend that an experinn 
with one battery of this description on the terms propc 
guarantee and forfeiture in case of failure in any of th 
and points of the vessel as proposed. 

Price, $275,000; length of vessel, 172 feet; breadtl 
41 feet; depth of hold, 11£ feet; time, 100 days; draug] 
10 feet; displacement, 1,255 tons; speed per hour, 9 stal 

John W. Ntsteom, Philadelphia, 1216 Chestnut St 
The plan of (quadruple) guns is not known and cannot 
ered. The dimensions would not float the vessel a 
guards, which we are not satisfied would repel shot, 
recommend the plan. 

Price, about $175,000; length of vessel, 175 feet; 
beam, 27 feet; depth of hold, 13 feet; time, four mont 
of water, 10 feet; displacement, 875 tons; speed p« 


last proposal (No. 3, page 2) for the heavy plating is the only one 
we have considered; but there is neither drawing nor model, and 
the capacity of the vessel, we think, will not bear the armor and 
armament proposed. 

Price, $ 621, 000; length of vessel, 225 feet; breadth of beam, 
45^ feet; depth of hold, 15^ feet; time, 9 months; draught of water 
13 feet; displacement, 2,454 tons; speed per hour, 10 knots. 

John C. Lk Febbe, Boston, page 9. — Description deficient. 
Not recommended. Sent a model, but neither price, time, nor 
dimensions stated. 

E. S. Renwick, New York, 335 Broadway, presents drawings, 
specifications and model of an iron-clad vessel of large capacity and 
powerful engines, with great speed, capable of carrying a heavy 
battery, and stated to be shot-proof and a good sea boat. The 
form and manner of construction and proportions of the vessel are 
novel, and will attract the attention of scientific and practical men. 
She is of very light draft of water, and on the question whether she 
will prove to be a safe and comfortable sea-boat we do not express 
a decided opinion. Yessels of somewhat similar form, in the part 
of the vessel which is emersed, of light draught of water on our 
western lakes, have, we believe, proved entirely satisfactory in all 
weathers. To counteract the effect of the waves, when disturbed 
by the winds, by producing a jerk, or sudden rolling motion of flat 
shoal vessels, it is proposed to carry a sufficient weight above the 
center of gravity to counterpoise the heavy weight below, which is 
done in this ship by the immense iron armor. If, after a full dis- 
cussion and examination by experts on this plan, it should be de- 
cided that she is a safe vessel for sea service, we would recommend 
the construction upon it of one ship at one of our dock yards. 

The estimate cost of this ship, $1,500,000, precludes action 
upon the plan until further appropriations shall be made by Con- 
gress for such objects. 

Time not stated; length of vessel 400 feet; breadth of beam, 
60 feet; depth of hold, 33 feet; draught of water, 16 feet; displace- 
ment, 6,520 tons; speed per hour, at least 18 miles. 

Whitney & Rowland, Brooklyn, Greenpoint, page 13; propose 
an iron gunboat, armor of bars of iron and thin plate over it. No 
price stated. Dimensions of vessel, we think, will not bear the 
weight and possess stability. Time, 5 months. Not recommended. 


Length of vessel, 140 feet; breadth of beam, 28 fet 
hold, 13f feet; draught of water, 8 feet. 

Donald McKay, Boston, page &.- — Vessel, in gen 
sions and armor, approved. The speed estimated slow, 
precludes the consideration of construction by the board 

Price,, $1,000,000; length of vessel, 227 feet; breac 
50 feet; depth of hold, 26£ feet; time, 9 to 10 months; 
water, 14 feet; displacement, 3,100 tons; speed per 1 

William H. Wood, Jersey City, N. J., page 1 
sions will not float the guns high enough; not recommei 

Price, $255,000; length of vessel, 160 feet; breadt 
34 feet; depth of hold, 22 feet; time, 4 months; draugb 
13 feet; displacement, 1,215 tons; speed, not stated. 

Merrick & Sons, Philadelphia, pages 7 and 8- 
wood and iron combined. This proposition we considi 
practical one for heavy armor. We recommend that a 
made with that party, under a guarantee, with forfeitur 
failure to comply with the specifications; and that the 
quire the plates to be 15 feet long and 36 inches wide, \ 
vation of some modifications which may occur as the 
gresses, not to affect the cost. 

Price, $780,000; length of vessel, 220 feet; breadt 
60 feet; depth of hold, 23 feet; time, 9 months; draugl 
13 feet; displacement, 3,296 tons; speed per hour, 9-J k 

Benjamin Rathbukn, , page 20. — We do not 

the plan for adoption. 

Price not stated; length of vessel not stated; bread' 
80 feet; depth of hold, 74 feet; time not stated; draugl 
25 feet; displacement, 15,000, tons; speed not stated; s 

Henry E,. Dunham, New York, page 11. — Vessel 
for the appropriation; no drawings or specifications; 

Price, $1,200,000; length of vessel, 325 feet; bread 
60 feet; depth of hold not stated; time, 15 to 18 monl 
of water, 16 feet; displacement not stated; speed p< 


pose a vessel to be iron-clad, od the rail and plate principle, and to 
obtain high speed. The objection to this vessel is the fear that she 
will not float her armor and load sufficiently high, and have stabil- 
ity enough for a sea vessel. With a guarantee that she shall do 
these, we recommend on that basis a contract. 

Price, $235,250; length of vessel, 180 feet; breadth of beam, 
— feet; depth of hold, 12f feet; time, 4 months; draught of water, 
10 feet; displacement, — tons; speed per hour, 12 knots. 

John Westwood, Cincinnati, Ohio, page 17. — Vessel of wood, 
with iron armor; plan good enough, but the breadth not enough to 
bear the armor. No detailed specification; no price or time stated; 
only a general drawing. Not recommended. 

Neafie & Levy, Philadelphia, page 5. — No plans or drawings, 
therefore not considered. Neither price nor time stated. 

Length of vessel, 200 feet; breadth of beam, 40 feet; depth of 
hold, 15 feet; draught of water, 13 feet; displacement, 1,748 tons; 
speed per hour, 10 knots. 

Wm. Noeeis, New York, 26 Cedar street, page 6. — Iron boat 
without armor — too small and not recommended. 

Price, $32,000; length of vessel 83 feet; breadth of beam 25 
feet; depth of hold 14 feet; time 60 to 75 days; draught of water. 3 
feet; displacement 90 tons; speed not stated. 

Wm. Kingsley, Washington, D. C, page 10, proposes a rubier- 
clad vessel, which we cannot recommend. No price or dimensions 

A. Beebe, New York, 82 Broadway, page 18. — Specification 
and sketch defective. Plan not approved. 

Price, $50,000; length of vessel, 120 feet; breadth of beam, 55 
feet; depth not stated; time 100 days; draught of water, 6 ft. dis- 
placement, 1,000 tons; speed per hour, 8 knots. 

These three propositions recommended, viz: Bushnell & Co., 
New Haven, Connecticut; Merrick & Sons, Philadelphia, and J. 
Ericsson, New York, will absorb $1,290,050 of the appropriation 
of $1,500,000, leaving $209,750 yet unexpended. 

The board recommends that armor with heavy guns be placed 
on one of our river craft, or, if none will bear it, to construct a 
scow, which will answer, to plate and shield the guns, for the river 
service on the Potomac, to be constructed or prepared by the gov- 
ernment at the navy yard here for immediate use. 


We would further recommend that the Department : 
gress at the next session, an appropriation, for experii 
iron plates of different kinds, of $ 10, 000. 

All of which is respectfully submitted, 


H. Pi 

C. H. 

Hon. Gideon Welles, 

Secretary of the Navy. 

The first of the three plans accepted resulted in 

dated September 27, 1861, with C. S. Bushnell & C 

Haven, Conn., for the armored gunboat that was nam 

She was built at Mystic Bridge, Conn., from designs ] 

Mr. S. H. Pook, afterward a constructor in the navy, foi 

and was completed in Apri ! , 1862, being almost immedi 

after in action and badly damaged at Drury's Bluff, 

river. In form the Galena was similar to an ordinary 

with the important difference that her sides tumbled 

angle of nearly forty-five degrees and were covered wit 

and plates, protecting a gun deck in which six large 

mounted. She was rated as of 738 tons burden, and Wi 

a two-masted foretopsail schooner. There were two Eric 

ing lever engines, with horizontal cylinders for'y-eigl] 

diameter and three feet stroke, driving a four-bladed 

peller, twelve feet in diameter and twenty feet pitch. 

supplied by two horizontal tubular boilers with three 

each, two blower engines for fan blast being prov 

Galena's armor was about four inches in thickness and i 

shattered at Drury's Bluff that she was not considered 

an armor clad, although she continued in active service 

the war, and, lashed to the unfortunate Oneida, was ir 

fleet in Mobile Bay. In the early '70'y, under the guise 

ing" her, the Department built the 1,900 ton sloop of 

that was for many years a prominent figure in our wood 

The contract with Merr'.ck & Sons of Philadelphia gav 
States navy the New Ironsides, beyond question the fine 
formidable example of a battle-ship in existence at tl 


first took the sea. The hull was built of white oak at Cramp's ship- 
yard in Philadelphia, Merrick & Sons building the machinery at 
their own works. The engines were of only about seven hundred 
horse power and could drive the ship scarcely six knots an hour, 
but that was regarded as fast enough for the service required of her, 
as it was not apprehended that she would be obliged to run away 
from anything then afloat. The contract price was $780,000. She 
was of 4,120 tons displacement; 232 feet long; 57£ feet beam, and 
mounted a very heavy battery, consisting of sixteen Xl-inch Dahl- 
gren guns, two 200-pounder Parrott rifles, and four 24-pounder 

The New Ironsides was large and decidedly ship-shape in ap- 
pearance, with a projecting ram bow, the sides for the length of the 
main battery being sheathed with four inches of iron plate armor, 
the bow and stern sections being unarmored. The main battery 
was also protected with athwart-ship bulkheads, or walls, of the 
same thickness of armor as the sides, so she was really a case-mated 
ship. She was originally bark-rigged, but when sent to the seat of 
war she was stripped for fighting, the masts being taken out at 
Port Boyal and replaced with light clothes-poles, with which rig 
her appearance was remarkably like that of a modern war- vessel. 
In 1863 the masts were replaced previous to a trip north for repairs, 
but were again removed, this time at Norfolk, before she again 
went into action. 

Completed late in 1862, she proceeded at once to the front and 
was actively employed during the remainder of the rebellion, it 
being said of her that she was in action more days than any other 
vessel of our navy during the war. Mr. William S. Wells of New 
Haven, Connecticut, recently the Rear Admiral of the National 
Association of Naval Veterans, was attached to the New Ironsides 
as an assistant engineer during her entire period of war service, be- 
ginning with her first commission, and was the only officer who re- 
mained in her that length of time. To him Admiral Porter wrote 
long after the war that the New Ironsides had a racord for having 
been hammered more thoroughly than any .vessel that ever floated, 
and gave, with other interesting facts about the ship, the statement 
that in a series of engagements from July 18 to September 8, 1863, 
she had fired four thousand four hundred and thirty-nine eleven- 


inch projectiles. In one engagement with the batteries 
van's Island she was struck seventy times within three 1 
aside from some temporary damage to the port-shutters, 
engineers quickly repaired, was in perfect fighting condit 
end of the action. On another occasion she very narrow 
being blown up by a torpedo. At the close of the war sh 
up at the League Island navy yard, where, on the night c 
ber 15-16, 1866, she was burned to the water's edge, ha^ 
fire in some unknown manner late at night and not discos 
the flames were beyond control. 

The picture of this famous ship which appears in ti 
reproduction of a drawing made by Second Assistant Eng 
liam S. Wells, before referred to as having served in he 
out her war career, and represents the New Ironsides exa 
looked in the battles in Charleston harbor in 1863. 

The third proposal accepted resulted in the cons 
John Ericcson's Monitor, probably the most famous s 
making cratt that ever floated, unless we revert to very a 
tory and except Noah's Ark. The contract for this nove 
was made October 4, 1861, between John Ericsson and ] 
on one part, and Gideon Welles, as Secretary of the Ns 
other. It provided that the parties of the first part shoul 
an iron-clad, shot-proof steam battery, of iron and wood 
on Ericsson's plan; the length to be 179 feet; extreme b 
feet, and depth 5 feet, or larger if found necessary, t< 
required armament and stores. A sea speed of eight knc 
maintained for twelve consecutive hours was stipulated, 
tract price was $275,000, to be paid in five instalments < 
each and one of $25,000, payments to be made upon cei 
the naval superintendent of construction when in his judg 
had progressed sufficiently to warrant them. A rese 
twenty-five per cent, was withheld from each paymen 
tained until after the completion and satisfactory trial of 
not to exceed ninety days after she was ready for sea. 

A clause of the contract provided that in case the 
not develop the stipulated speed or failed in other stat 
ments the contractors should refund to the United Sta 
amount of money paid them. This clause is the basis 






repeated statement that Ericsson and his sureties paid for the build- 
ing of the vessel themselves; this was not the case, as all the pay- 
ments, excepting the twenty-five per cent, reservation, were made 
before the Monitor left New York, although the contract would 
have required the contractors to pay for her had it not been for her 
fortunate encounter with the Merrirnac, as her speed and some 
other qualities could not have been regarded as satisfactory. Her 
performance in Hampton Roads was regarded as a satisfactory test 
and the Navy Department paid the reservations within a week 
thereafter without insisting upon the full letter of the contract being 
carried out in minor particulars. A curious clause in the contract, 
which Ericsson ignored and the Department did not insist upon, in- 
dicates how reluctant the naval advisers of the Secretary were to 
authorise an entire departure from the method of marine propulsion 
which they had grown up to believe was the only reliable one. The 
clause referred to required the contractors to "furnish masts, spars, 
sails, and rigging of sufficient dimensions to drive the vessel at the 
rate of six knots per hour in a fair breeze of wind. ' ' 

The adoption of the plan proposed by Ericsson was due to a 
train of accidental circumstances far more than to any percipience 
on the part of th,e board to which it was submitted. After being 
promised the contract for the Galena, Mr. C. S. Bushnell called 
upon Ericsson in New York for professional advice regarding some 
of the details of his plans, and during the interview Ericsson resur- 
rected from a rubbish heap in the corner of his office the model that 
he had made for the French naval officials in 1854, and exhibited 
it as his idea of what an iron-clad should be. Bushnell instantly 
perceived the possibilities of the design, but could not induce 
Ericsson to submit it to the naval board, the inventor having 
already had a surfeit of experiences with the Navy Department in 
years gone by. He did succeed, however, in getting Ericsson's 
permission to take the model and submit it himself. Knowing that 
Secretary Welles, who was his personal friend, was then in Con- 
necticut, Mr. Bushnell hastened thither and laid the plan before 
him, the Secretary being so impressed with its merits that he urged 
Bushnell to take it to Washington immediately, promising that he 
would, if necessary, order the board to extend the limit of time 
prescribed for the submission of plans. 


Through influential friends Mr. Bushnell obtai 
interview with President Lincoln and so enlisted his 
hibiting the model and explaining the simplicity of c 
ship it represented that the President voluntarily of] 
pany him to the Navy Department the next day. 1 
time Mr. Bushnell and the President called on Ass 
Fox and exhibited lhe model to him and a number c 
including members of the iron-clad board. All wer 
the simplicity and novelty of the plan, and some fa 
a trial ; others ridiculed it. The following day Coi 
convened his board and gave Mr. Bushnell an officii 
gentleman quitting the session with a hope that he ] 
presented his case; he was doomed to disappointmei 
the next morning he found the interest of the previc 
gone, and the members of the board indifferent and sk< 
commodores told him that they would vote for a trh 
if he could get Commander Davis to vote for it, Da' 
member of the board being evidently used as the ex 
minister the coup die grace to suspected "cranks 
officer, when appealed to by Bushnell, grew merry c 
garded as the absurdities of the project and told ] 
might ' ' take the little thing home and worship it, ; 
be idolatry, because it was in the image of nothinj 
above or on the earth beneath or in the waters unde 

Almost in despair, Mr. Bushnell resolved to pli 
by calling in the eloquent voice of Ericsson to exp 
vention, a difficult thing to do, for Ericsson had bee 
treated by the Navy Department in regard to the P, 
had often announced his determination never to se 
ington again. Bushnell proceeded to New York an 
ing the state of affairs in much brighter colors t 
facts warranted, induced Ericsson to go to Washing 
before the board. Arriving there, he was coldly r< 
formed that his plan had already been rejected; mor 
nant, he was about to leave, but a remark dropped 

1 Letter from Mr. Bushnell to Hon. Gideon Welles; p 
nvim-pVi's T.ifft of John Ericsson. Vol. 1.. t>aere 250 


Smith to the effect that the cause for rejection was lack of stability 
excited his professional pride and he launched forth into a most 
masterful and eloquent defense of his model, convincing the mem- 
bers of the board in short order that he knew more of stability and 
ships in general than had ever been dreamed of in their philosophy. 
The impression, he made gained him another audience with the 
board, the Secretary of the Navy, who had fortunately returned to 
Washington, being present on the second occasion; after Ericsson 
had charmed everyone in the room with his glowing description of 
what his vessel could do, Mr. Welles asked each member of the 
board in turn if he approved of a contract being made with Ericsson, 
and each in turn gently answered, " Yes, by all means." No more 
time was lost; the Secretary told Ericsson that he would be awarded 
a contract, and urged him to begin work at once without waiting for 
formalities, which he did with such vim that in the few days that 
elapsed before the contract was drawn up the keel plates of the 
Monitor were put through the rolling mill. Thus by the precar- 
ious train of happenings above related did Ericsson's model nar- 
rowly escape remaining for an indefinite time in the dusty oblivion 
of his workshop. 

The name Monitor was given by Ericsson himself to his iron- 
clad, his reasons for the selection being thus stated in a letter of 
his to Assistant Secretary Fox, dated January 20, 1862: 

" Sib: In accordance with your request, I now submit for your 
approbation a name for the floating battery at Grreenpoint. The 
impregnable and aggressive character of this structure will admonish 
the leaders of the Southern Bebellion that the batteries on the banks 
of their rivers will no longer present barriers to the entrance of the 
Union forces. The iron-clad intruder will thus prove a severe 
monitor to those leaders. But there are other leaders who will also 
be startled and admonished by the booming of the guns from the 
impregnable iron turret. 'Downing Street' will hardly view with 
indifference this last ' Yankee notion', this monitor. To the Lords 
of the Admiralty the new craft will be a monitor, suggesting doubts 
as to the propriety of completing those four steel-clad ships at three 
and a half millions apiece. On these and many similar grounds, I 
propose to name the new battery Monitor. ' ' 


Every part of this wonderful vessel was designe 
Ericsson, and she was purely and wholly an engineers' sh 
free from the trappings and adjuncts pertaining to the s 
of the period in which she was built. Hull, machiner 
gun carriages, anchor hoists, everything, all were built. f 
ing drawings made by Ericsson's own hands. In orde: 
the work it was given out by sub-contracts to different 
ments: the hull was built by Thomas F. Rowland at the ( 
Iron "Works, Grreenpoint; the propelling engines and al 
machinery by Delamater & Co. , and the turret, built u 
layers of one-inch iron plates bolted together, by the N< 
Works. Chief Engineer Alban C. Stimers, TJ. S. Na 
sented the Government as the inspector of construction o1 
fabric. Within one hundred working days from the laj 
keel the Monitor was practically completed and her ei 
been operated under steam. As built, her extreme leng 


a. awning, b. pilot house of iron " logs." c. anchor well. d. w 
body or raft, armored on sides and deck. e. iron hull or under-bodj 

feel; breadth, 41£ feet; depth of hold, 11£ feet; draft of 
feet; inside diameter of turret, 20 feet; height of turr 
The deck was plated with iron an inch thick, and the sk 
upper body, or wooden cover of the iron hull as it may 
were protected with five inches of iron armor. Two Xl-i 
gren guns were mounted in the turret. The engines were of 
vibrating-lever type, with cylinders three feet in diameter a 
six inches stroke, driving a propeller nine feet in diamete 
While the Monitor was being built, the Navy Depai 
Captain Ericsson were liberally ridiculed and abused by 
press for what was regarded as a fatuitous waste of publ 
and Ericsson himself, in the midst of his overwhelming 1 



constantly to calm the doubts of Commodore Smith, who appears 
from his many letters full of foreboding to Ericsson, to have repented 
of his approval of this revolutionary design in naval architecture. 
In the midst of all this hostility and opposition, Mr. Secretary Welles, 
Captain Ericsson, the three gentlemen who became his sureties 
(Messrs. C. S. Bushnell, John A. Griswold, and John F. Winslow), 
and Chief Engineer Stimers remained steadfast in their faith in the 
new departure, and seem to have been about the only persons in- 
terested who did not regard the scheme as a crazy dream, doomed 
to utter failure. The performance of the Monitor in battle imme- 
diately after her completion caused a sudden change in sentiment, 
naval and civil, and many who had been loudest in jeering became 


.-fc^g-"^ ~.V~ -r - i' O * 


equally loud in praise, announcing their own prescience. Credit for 
the creation of the Monitor belongs largely to Mr. Secretary Welles 
for appreciating its possibilities and for his action in influencing the 
armor-clad board to approve the original plans; after him, the credit 
is probably fairly distributed in his own words as follows: 

" To the distinguished inventor of this new-class vessel, to his 
sureties, to the board of naval officers who reported in her favor, to 
the vigilant and very able naval officer who superintended her con- 
struction, the Secretary has, on repeated occasions, tendered his 
obligations and his thanks for their patriotic services in coming to 
the assistance of the department and the government in a great 
emergency. Great praise and commendation are due to them re- 


spectively, but no one can be justified in attempting to 
himself undue merit at the expense of others. The Ni 
ment, under great embarrassments, was compelled to e 
new field in naval warfare, and in this experiment it had 
and active and efficient co-operation of Captain John Er 
that of the wealthy and deserving gentlemen who aided 
velopment of this new class of vessels, which have entei 
navy of the United States, and been elsewhere iucorpora 
service of other governments. ' ' x 

The year 1861 also saw the appearance of iron-clad 
the Mississippi Eiver, built by the War Department for 
nection with the army. Seven of thse iron-clads were 
distinguished engineer of St. Louis, Mr. James B. Ed 
contract dated August 7, 1861, and were mostly compl 
end of the year. They were 175 feet long, 50 feet beai 
propelled by a huge paddle-wheel amidships near the s 
ing in an opening 18 feet wide and 60 feet long fore and 
parts of the after body of the vessel thus formed being ; 
the wheel by a flying deck, known in river parlance as 
tail." The wheel was 22 feet in diameter. Almost the ent 
covered with a casemate, or superstructure, with sides slo 
and upward at an angle of forty-five degrees, enclosing 1 
machinery and paddle-wheel. The expectation being t< 
on as a rule, the front end of the casemate was plated wi 
of iron, backed with twenty inches of oak. The sides 
engines and boilers had the same thickness of iron withi 
backing, and the remainder of the surface was unprotect 
gines were of the usual high-pressure river type, an 
boilers, were in constant danger from shot in action, th« 
of the boats making it impossible for the machinery to b 
low the water line. These Edes gun-boats were named 
ondelet, Cincinnati, Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburg 
Louis, after towns in the Mississippi valley. They had 1 
tal high-pressure steam cylinders, 22 inches in diamete 
stroke, and five cylindrical flue boilers, 3 feet in diam 
feet long. 

1 Senate Ex. Doc, No. 86; 40th Congress, 2d Session. 






Two other steamers — the Essex and Benton — nearly twice as 
large as the Edes' boats, were bought and converted into gunboats, the 
armor both iron and wood backing, being heavier than that of 
the seven contract vessels. A naval officer (Commander John 
Eodgers first, and Captain A. EL Foote a few months later) had 
general command of this flotilla under the army authorities, and of- 
ficers of the regular navy were assigned to the command of the dif- 
ferent steamers: the subordinate officers were volunteers, recruited 
chiefly from the captains, engineers, mates and pilots of the river, 
and the crews were decidedly mixed — soldiers, rivermen, men-of- 
war's-men from the East, and sailors from the Great Lakes. The 
naval commanders were of necessity junior by relative rank to the 
numerous generals and colonels doing duty about them, and this 
produced more or less friction, as the army officers had authority to 
give orders to the gunboats, or ' ' interfere ' ' with them, as Captain 
Foote expressed it. In July, 1862 this unpleasant state of affairs 
was done away with by the transferring of the entire river flotilla to 
the Navy Department. 



" Then, like a kraken huge and black. 
She crushed our ribs in her iron grasp ! 
Down went the Cumberland all a wrack, 

With a sudden shudder of death, 

And the cannon's breath 
For her dying gasp." — Longfellow. 

1862. The Civil War, Continued. Capture of Roanoke Island and Elizabeth Ci1 
The Merrimac and her Raid. Destruction of the Congress and Cumbb 
land. The Monitor Completed and Commissioned. Her Chief Enginei 
Isaac Newton. Voyage of the Monitor from New York and her arrival 
Hampton Roads. 

AT the beginning of 1862 a large combined military and nav 
force under the command of Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborouj 
and Brigadier General A. E. Burnside was fitted out at Annapol 
for the purpose of entering the Sounds of North Carolina throuj 
Hatteras Inlet, and capturing the fortified positions of the enemy < 
Roanoke Island, the possession of which would give to the Unic 
forces the military command of those waters. This expedition h 
passed into history as the "Burnside Expedition," but it might wi 
much propriety be designated by Goldsborough's name, ina 
much as its character was essentially naval. Owing to the shoalne 
of water on the bulkhead at Hatteras Inlet and at many places 
the Sounds, vessels of light draft were necessarily used, several 
them being armed ferry-boats, and others were purchased tugs, riv 
steamers, freight-boats, etc., not one of them having been built f 
war purposes. It should be remarked in regard to the ferry-boa 
that in spite of their uncouth appearance they were found remarkab 
useful for coast and river service, combining light draft with hanc 
ness in narrow places, being able to steam and steer equally well 
either direction, while the broad overhanging deck furnished : 
excellent gun platform on which heavy batteries were habitual 

Proceeding down Chesapeake Bay, the flotilla assembled 
Hampton Roads and sailed thence the 11th of January, being th 


composed of one hundred and twenty-five vessels, about twenty of 
which belonged to the navy and the remainder were purchased or 
chartered army transports, carrying some twelve thousand soldiers, 
with horses, ammunition, provisions, and all the paraphernalia of 
war. With much tooting of whistles, waving of flags, and cheering 
of soldiers, the expedition moved out towards the Capes of the 
Chesapeake, being probably the most motley and piebald aggregation 
of craft ever afloat with warlike intent. The enthusiasm of the 
soldiers speedily subsided when the Atlantic was reached and the 
voyage down the coast was so devoid of pleasure that men who 
subsequently became hardened veterans of the Army of the Potomac 
now refer to that sea experience with more abhorrence than they 
exhibit in recalling the dreadful scenes of Chancellorsville and 

The fleet arrived off Hatteras January 13, and spent some 
two weeks in the very difficult task of working over the shoals inside 
the Sounds, the army transports not all getting inside until the 5th 
of February. Three of the transports were wrecked and a con- 
siderable number of horses, rifles, and ordnance stores were lost. 
One of the naval steamers, the Whitehall, was so injured in trying to 
get in that she had to return to Hampton Eoads for repairs. As 
finally collected inside, the naval force consisted of nineteen vessels 
arranged in three divisions, commanded respectively by Lieutenant 
Reed "Werden in the Stars and Stripes, Lieutenant A. Murray in the 
Louisiana, and Lieutenant H. K. Davenport in the Hetzel. A 
number of the army vessels were armed with one or more guns and 
were intended for fighting as well as transport purposes ; these, 
bearing such names as Picket, Lancer, Huzzar,&c, were formed into 
a division under the command of Commander S. F. Hazard, of the 
navy. Mr. Chas. H. Haswell, who has figured so prominently in 
the earlier chapters of this work, was attached to General Burnside's 
staff as fleet engineer, and Lieutenant D. W. Flagler, now brigadier 
general and Chief of the Ordnance Department of the army, was 
Burnside's chief ordnance officer. Flag Officer Goldsborough's 
flagship, the Philadelphia, not being suited for safe handling over 
the lumpy and uncertain bottom about Roanoke Island, did not 
participate in the ensuing engagement, Goldsborough temporarily 
transferring his flag and going, with his fleet captain, Commander 
A. L. Case, into action in the armed ferry-boat Southfield. 


February 7th the fleet moved up and engaged the shore batten 
and a small squadron of gunboats of the enemy with such good effe 
that by midnight Burnside had been able to land over ten thousa] 
troops. The next day the attack was begun at daybreak and co 
tinued until the middle of the afternoon, when a bold charge of t 
military forces gained possession of the enemy's strongest positio 
and compelled his surrender. About three thousand Confederat 
were made prisoners, the remainder escaping in their gunboats 
Elizabeth City near the Albemarle end of the Dismal Swamp cam 

The casualties in the fleet were small considering the charact 
of the vessels and the severe bombardment they underwent, the tot 
loss amounting to seven killed and sixteen wounded. Two of ti 
killed were officers — Charles Harris, Master's Mate of the Hetu 
and Acting Second Assistant Engineer Stephen Mealius, senior ei 
gineer of the Seymour. Mr Mealius was struck in the hip by a 3 
pound shot and so injured that he died about a week later, the san 
shot killing a coal-heaver at his side. These two were the on 
casualties on the Seymour. The unsuitability of the vessels for w 
service was shown by the fact that several of them were temporari 
disabled during the attack by injuries to their machinery. The cros 
head and one of the slides of the engine of the Hunchback were sh 
away, and the Commodore Perry was partly crippled by a shot whi 
passed between the engine and boiler and destroyed the feed-wat 
tank. A shell struck the upper deck of the Ceres and glanci) 
downward from a beam in very curious flight passed through t' 
lower deck and rolled into one of the ash pits where it explode 
hurling fire and grate- bars in all directions. 

One episode of the fight brought Chief Engineer Haswell in 
enviable prominence for gallantry, the affair being thus related 
Frank Leslie's Pictorial History of the War: "During her effoi 
to get near the fort, the Ranger got aground, and for a few momer 
was in great danger, being a stationary target for the rebel gun 
Mr. Charles Haswell, Engineer-in-chief of the fleet, who was 
command of the steamer Tempest, at this critical juncture went 
the rescue, and taking her hawser, towed the Ranger out .of dang 
into deep water again. The act was greatly applauded." 

Immediately after the capture of Koanoke Island, Flag Offic 
Goldsborough despatched his second in command, Commander 


3. Rowan, with fourteen of the steamers to Elizabeth City to attack 
;he Confederate gunboats, all of which had taken refuge there with 
;he exception of the Ourlew which had been so badly damaged in the 
tight of the 7th that she had been set on fire and destroyed. Feb- 
ruary 10th Rowan's squadron attacked the enemy and destroyed all 
ais vessels except one, the Ellis, which was captured in good condi- 
;ion and converted into a Federal gunboat, performing good service 
is such in the waters of the Sounds until her loss by stranding near 
the end of the year. At the time of her loss she was under the 
command of Lieutenant Wm. B. Cushing, then rising into promi- 
nence by virtue of a courage at once heroic and reckless. For 
exceptional excellence in the action at Elizabeth City Mr. John 
Cahill, second assistant engineer and acting chief of the Underwriter, 
was highly commended in the report of his commanding officer, 
Lieutenant William N. Jeffers, who praised Mr. Cahill's manage- 
ment of the engineer department and also his services in working 
the after gun during the fight. The same engagement furnished an 
instance of remarkable courage and presence of mind on the part of 
John Davis, gunner's mate of the Valley City, who, when the maga- 
zine was set on fire by a shell, deliberately sat down in an open 
barrel of powder and prevented its ignition until the fire division 
came to the rescue. 

After the affair at Elizabeth City an expedition consisting of 
the Shawslieen, Lockwood, and two or three smaller vessels, all under 
the command of Lieutenant Jeffers, was sent to drive the enemy 
away from the mouth of the Chesapeake and Albemarle canal and 
to block up that water-way. On February 13, after shelling the 
position and driving the enemy back half a mile or more, a force of 
sailors and engine-room men under Acting Master Graves and 
Second Assistant Engineer John L. Lay, acting chief of the Louisiana, 
was landed and destroyed the machinery of a large dredging machine, 
afterward sinking it and some schooners in the canal, completely 
obstructing it. Mr. Lay, who afterward became prominent in the 
navy in connection with the torpedo service, was highly commended 
in the commanding officer's report for the thorough manner in which 
the work had been done. 

The story of how the fine frigate Merrimac was lost to the Union 
has been told in a former chapter. After gaining possession of the 


Norfolk navy yard the Confederates lost no time in making repa 
and reaping the benefit of their enormous prize. Their most va 
able booty consisted of the great number of guns, mostly uninjun 
and the vast quantities of ordnance and equipment supplies that i 
into their hands, but they gave attention also to the ships that 1 
been scuttled. The Germantown, Plymouth and Merrimac wi 
raised and the first two easily restored to a serviceable conditk 
but were not equipped for sea. The failure to attempt to make i 
of these two ships may be attributed to the fact that some of i 
most able and progressive officers of the old navy had joined ■ 
Confederacy and these gentlemen, from having studiously obsen 
the tendencies of war-ship development, were ready to accept 1 
inevitable and admit that the day of the sailing ship of war was ov 
They had discerned the growing shadow of coming events and 
this regard were far ahead of their naval brethern at the North, -w 
did not awake from the spell of old beliefs until the Southerners gs 
them a rude and terrible object lesson. 

The upper works of the Merrimac had been burned as she sa 
but all the lower hull, as well as the machinery, was found in 
good condition as could be expected after a month's submersion, 
board, consisting of Engineer-in-Chief William P. Williamson, Li 
tenant John M. Brooke, and Chief Constructor John L. Porter ^ 
assembled early in June to determine upon a plan for converting 
Merrimac into an iron-clad battery, and a plan was adopted with 
any great delay. Lieutenant Brooke was given credit at the time 
the newspaper and official reports for having originated the des 
adopted, and the question has been a matter of dispute and conl 
versy ever since. Constructor Porter claimed the honor and he 
doubtedly made the drawings from which the vessel was rec 
structed, as that was a duty pertaining to his office, but he mi 
have made them without originating them. In Scharf 's Historj 
the Confederate States' Navy the matter is gone over at length i 
Mr. Porter's claim very fully supported. Chief Engineer Tl 
Williamson, U. S. Navy, who is a son of the Confederate Engini 
in-Chief, has informed the author that years before the war, when 
terest in the Stevens battery had directed the minds of naval me: 
the possibilities of iron armor, his father had made drawings of 
iron-clad war vessel, and that the reconstructed Merrimac was 


;eneral design, an exact reproduction of those plans. "Williamson 
leyond doubt submitted his design and Porter developed it, the two 
nen as representative ship engineers of the South being jointly en- 
itled to the credit of having created the vessel which became the 
ype and embodied the ideas of the engineers of the South of what an 
.rmored war-ship should be. 

The damaged hull of the Merrimac was rebuilt up to the level of 
he berth deck and a huge cast iron spur was fitted on the bow about 
wo feet below the water-line and projecting eighteen inches beyond 
he cutwater. When equipped for service, with coal and stores on 
loard, it was designed that the vessel should float with her deck 
lightly submerged. On the central part of the deck extending one 
Lundred and seventy feet fore and aft and the full width of the 
essel athwartship was erected a citadel or casemate, with rounded 
mds, the sides sloping at an angle of forty-five degrees and extend- 
ng some two feet below the water line along the sides, or eaves, as 
he lower edges have appropriately been called. This casemate was 
even feet high in the clear, its flat top being covered with a wooden 
jrating to let light and air inside, and forming the promenade or 
par deck of the ship. The structure was built of pine, twenty inches 
n thickness, sheathed with four inches of oak planking and this in 
urn with two layers of 2-inch iron bars or plates, these being eight 
nches wide and about ten feet long. The first layer of these armor 
)ars was put on horizontally like a ship's planking, the other, or 
mter course being up and down. Through-bolts, one and three- 
sighths inches in diameter secured inside fastened the armor to the 
vooden superstructure. The battery mounted in this floating strong- 
lold consisted of a VH-inch Brooke rifle pivoted in each of the 
•ounded ends and eight guns in broadside, four on each side, six of 
he latter being IX-inch Dahlgrens and two 32-pounder Brooke rifles. 

The iron-clad approached completion early in March and was 
:hristened Virginia, but the name she had borne in the old navy 
ituck to her, probably on account of its alliterative affinity with 
Monitor, and as the Merrimac she will ever be known. On the 8th 
)f March she got under way from the Norfolk navy yard and pro- 
:eeded down the Elizabeth River accompanied by the gunboats 
Beaufort and Raleigh, mounting one gun each. Her crew of about 
hree hundred men was composed mostly of volunteers from the 


troops about Richmond, and because of the crowds of workmen 
board until the last minute had not been exercised at their stati( 
The engines, which had been a nightmare to the engineers of the 
navy, had been thoroughly overhauled under the direction of C 
Engineer Williamson, but, with a raw force to manage them, wer 
object of apprehension rather than a reliable source of power. 
Union force in and about Hampton Roads consisted of the large 
gun firigates.'ifocmo&e and Minnesota, sister ships of the original 1 
rimac, some small armed tugs, the 50-gun sailing frigates Com 
and St. Lawrence, and the 24-gun sloop-of-war Cumberland. 
two steam frigates have been described in a former chapter, 
were regarded as the climax of all excellence in war-ship const 
tion, "yet," as remarked by Professor Soley, "it required but 
experience of a single afternoon in Hampton Roads, in the mont 
March, 1862, to show that they were antiquated, displaced, su 
seded, and that a new era had opened in naval warfare." 

' ' The Congress and Cumberland had been lying off New 
News for several months. Their ostensible duty was to blocl 
the James River; but it is not very clear how a sailing-vesse 
anchor could be of any use for this purpose. Most of the old sai 
vessels of the navy had by this time been relegated to their pr 
place as school-ships, store-ships, and receiving-ships, or had 1 
sent to foreign stations where their only duty was to display 
flag. Nothing shows more clearly the persistence of old tradil 
than the presence of these helpless vessels in so dangerous a ne 
borhood. Although the ships themselves were of no value for i 
crn warfare, their armament could ill be spared ; and they carriec 
tween them over eight hundred officers and men. whose lives 1 
exposed to fruitless sacrifice. ' ' 1 

The Merrimac emerged from the river about 1 p. m and tu 
down towards Newport News where the Congress and Cumber 
lay at anchor, already cleared for action. Three Confederate 
boats, the Jamestown, Teazer and Patrick Henry (or Yorktown), 
afterwards came out of the James River past the Federal batt 
at Newport News and took part in the ensuing engagement, rei 
ing much aid to the Merrimac. The story of what happened 

' Professor J. R. Soley: The Blockade ahd the Cruisers, page 61, chapte 


afternoon has been told so often that no detailed account of it will be 
repeated here. As the ram approached the sailing vessels she was 
furiously pounded by their broadside fire, but her sloping armor 
glanced the shot off like peas; passing the Congress, she deliberately 
rammed the Cumberland in the wake of the starboard forechains, 
tearing a great hole in her side, in which the cast-iron beak re- 
mained, it having been wrenched off in impact, Before reaching the 
Cumberland a broadside from that vessel put one or two shells into 
the forward gun port of the Merrimac, killing two and wounding five 
men, 1 but doing no serious damage to the ship itself. The first 
lieutenant of the Cumberland, Lieutenant George Upham Morris, 
who was in command in the absence of his captain, gallantly refused 
to surrender and fought his ship with a heroism not excelled in naval 
history, but in vain, for she sank in three-quarters of an hour, carry- 
ing down the wounded and many of the crew. The Congress, next 
assailed, was run on shore in hope of saving her, but the enemy got 
into easy range astern and tore her through and through with shot 
and shell, butchering her people without mercy. Unable to make 
any resistance, she surrendered, but the army force on shore, not un- 
derstanding the situation, fired on the Confederate gunboats that had 
gone alongside to remove the prisoners, and drove them off. The 
Merrimac then set her on fire with incendiary shot, the survivors of 
the crew escaping to the shore in their boats or by swimming. The 
Congress burned until far into the night, when she blew up. 

Meanwhile the Minnesota had got under way from Hampton 
Roads and approached the scene of action, but ran aground when 
still more than a mile distant; she was fortunately in such a position 
with regard to the deep-water channel that the Merrimac could not 
get within effective range of her, but the gunboats Yorktown and 
Teazer took comparatively safe positions off her bow and stern and 
did her much damage, besides killing three and wounding sixteen of 
her men. The Roanoke was unable to move under steam, having 
broken her shaft some months previously, and consequently had no 
more business in the presence of the enemy than had the sailing fri- 
gates. However, her gallant captain, John Marsden, as well as 

' William Norris, a member of the Merrimac' s crew; in Southern Magazine 
November, 1874. 


Captain Purviance of the St. Lawrence, felt it to be duty to be in i 
tion, even in a forlorn hope, and they made desperate efforts to mc 
their vessels from Hampton Roads with the aid of armed tugs, cal 
gunboats, to the scene of action. The approach of night and the falli 
of the tide defeated the brave endeavors of these two captains, a 
their ships consequently did not become a prey to the invulnera' 
monster they hoped to destroy. 

About 7 p. m. the Merrimac withdrew from action and ancho] 
off Sewall's Point, intending to complete her work of destruction 
the morning. Her captain, Franklin Buchanan, had been wounc 
by a rifle ball from shore; the muzzles of two of her guns had bf 
knocked off, and her steaming ability, bad at best, had been consid 
ably weakened by the loss of the smoke pipe above the casema 
otherwise she was entirely fit for action. Her people were jubili 
over their success, and well they might be, for besides winning a s< 
fight against great numerical odds they had proved their vessel to 
absolutely in control of the situation with no apparent limit to i 
range of her conquests. Her performance that afternoon had b( 
exactly what we have a right to believe would have resulted had 
Demologos, nearly fifty years before, been completed in time to i 
counter a fleet of British frigates. The sound of the Merrimac 1 s gi 
had rung the curtain down forever upon the most picturesque and 
mantic mode of sea fighting that the world has ever known: then 
forth the march of iron and the engineer would have to be recogni: 
as all-important in naval warfare, and the picturesque must yield 
fore a homely materialism. 

Besides the loss of the Congress and Cumberland, the Fedc 
navy suffered severely in men. The official reports show that 
Congress lost in killed, wounded and missing one hundred and thii 
six men, or nearly one-third of her entire crew. Among her d< 
was her gallant commanding officer, Lieutenant Joseph B. Smi 
The Cumberland lost one hundred and twenty-one, also about o 
third of her crew, which numbered three hundred and seventy-six 
ficers and men when the action began. The Minnesota's casualit: 
previously mentioned, were nineteen. On the gunboat White) 
Third Assistant Engineer Andrew Nesbitt was instantly killed b 
fragment of shell from the Merrimac, and another assistant enghi 
was wounded in the face in the same manner. Two of her men^ 


killed. The Whitehall was a small New York ferryboat of 323 tons, 
purchased and armed in 1861, and has been mentioned before in this 
chapter as having been disabled in the Burnside Expedition. Her 
career ended the following night, March 9, by destruction by fire 
while lying at the wharf at Fortress Munroe, the chief loss involved 
being the breeching, tackles, and other gun gear of the Minnesota, 
together with a quantity of small arms and equipment, put on board 
her for safe keeping the night of the 8th when the destruction of the 
Minnesota seemed imminent. All the casualities due to the raid of 
the Merrimac, as above enumerated, amount to a total of two hundred 
and eighty. The Confederate loss, including casualities on their gun- 
boats, was not more than one tenth of this figure. 

Ericsson's Monitor was launched January 30, 1862, and by the 
middle of February was practically completed, going on a trial trip 
the 19th of that month. On this occasion the main engines, the 
steering gear, the turret turning mechanism, almost everything in 
fact, went wrong or refused to work; natural results of the lack of 
adjustment due to hasty construction, and needing only this trial to 
show what remedies were required. The newspapers that had in- 
dulged in endless jeremiads over " Ericsson's Folly " now redoubled 
their attacks and added greatly to the public mistrust of the vessel, 
but Ericsson himself and Chief Engineer Stimers maintained their 
faith unmoved and, ignoring the opportunities for controversy, pa- 
tiently set to work to remedy the defects. February 25, the Monitor 
was put in commission under the command of Lieutenant John L. 
Worden, U. S. Navy, and on the 4th of March a final and successful 
trial trip was run, the guns being satisfactorily tried at this time and 
a favorable report regarding the vessel was made by a board of naval 
officers. On these trials and while adjusting the machinery Mr. Sti- 
mers made it his business to operate personally every piece of mechan- 
ism in the ship and to become thoroughly familiar with and master 
of every detail of every department, thus gaining knowledge without 
which the performance of the Monitor immediately thereafter would 
have been impossible and the events of the Civil War materially 

Escaping finally from the onslaughts of the press, the Monitor 
faced a new foe by putting to sea on the 6th of March, being con- 
voyed by the gunboats Sachem and Currituck and in tow of the steamer 


Seth Low, although she used her own steam as well. Two hours af 
her departure a telegraphic order arrived for her to proceed direct 
Washington and this order was repeated to Captain Marsden at Han 
ton Roads. The failure of Worden to receive this order before le 
ing New York is referred to by naval historians as little less tl 
providential, and so it seems in view of the ensuing events; at i 
rate the circumstance adds one more to the list of almost miracul< 
chances that united in making the Monitor possible and in shap 
her career. The officers who went in her as volunteers for the m< 
than hazardous experiment of taking her to sea were, besides Wore 
the commander, Lieutenant Samuel Dana Greene; Acting .Mast 
John J. N. Webber and Louis N. Stodder ; Acting Assistant Paymas 
W. F. Keeler; Acting Assistant Surgeon Daniel C. Logue; First i 
sistant Engineer Isaac Newton; Second Assistant Engineer Albert 
Campbell, and Third Assistant Engineers R. W. Hands and M. 
Sundstrum. The commander, executive officer, and all the engine 
were of the regular service and the other officers volunteers. 1 
crew consisted of forty -three men who had volunteered from the 
ceiving-ship North Carolina and the sailing frigate Sabine. Ch 
Engineer Stimers voluntarily went as a passenger to observe the wo: 
ing of the novel craft and to give her officers the benefit of his kne 
ledge, he being, as stated by W. C. Church in his Life of Jo 
Ericsson, ' ' The only man on board who thoroughly understood 1 
characteristics of the vessel. ' ' 

Mr. Isaac Newton, the acting chief engineer of the Monitor, v 
a genius in his way who deserves more than passing mention. I 
father, also named Isaac Newton, was a prominent North Br 
steamboat builder and owner, and young Newton, besides getting 
excellent education in the New York city schools, had grown up 
his father's steamers and shops, so that by the time he reached in* 
hood he was a thorough steamboat captain, pilot, engineer, b< 
builder, machinist, and all-around mechanic. In June 1S61, 
volunteered for the war and selected the engineer corps of the na 
for his place of best service, coming into the navy with letters 
commendation from a number of the most prominent men in N 
York. His education enabled him to overstep the nominal requi 
ments for the volunteer service, and by passing the required exai 
nations he obtained an appointment as a first assistant engineer in 1 


regular service. If his experience could have been augmented with 
the four or five years of military training so essential to service in the 
regular navy he would have been an ideal naval officer for a war- 
steamer: as it was, he won a fine reputation for ability as an engineer 
and for general usefulness. He resigned at the close of the war and 
associated himself with John Ericsson in his disastrous Madawaska- 
Wampanoag controversy with Engineer-in-Chief Isherwood; was later 
General McClellan's associate in the work of rebuilding the Stevens 
battery, and again, having embarked in politics, held the very im- 
portant position of chief engineer of the Croton Aqueduct in the Pub- 
lic Works Department of the City of New York. 

The first twenty-four hours of the voyage of the Monitor from 
Sandy Hook were uneventful, light winds and smooth water being 
encountered. The wind and sea then rose and the vessel was soon 
in great peril. Great quantities of water came in through the hawse 
pipes, due to "gross carelessness in going to sea without stopping 
them up," as claimed by Ericsson in a paper on the "Building of 
the Monitor, ' ' in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. The turret 
was designed to slide on a bronze ring let into the deck at its base, 
this joint not being water tight nor intended to be, pumps being 
provided to remove the small quantity of water that would come in 
through this necessary crack. Before leaving New York, however, 
some "expert" at the navy yard, accustomed to the manifold uses 
of rope on shipboard, had caused the turret to be wedged up and 
had driven into the wide opening thus formed a plaited hemp gas- 
ket, the result being that when the sea began to break violently over 
the deck this gasket was washed out and water poured in cascades 
down the whole annular space sixty-three feet in circumference. The 
smoke pipes and blower supply pipes, were simply temporary trunks 
intended to be removed in action, projecting only about six feet 
above the deck, over which the seas broke and interrupted the action 
of the furnaces very seriously. 

From getting wet, the belts of the blowers would not cling and 
the engine and fire-rooms soon became charged with poisonous gases 
to such an extent that life below became almost impossible. Messrs. 
Newton and Stimers, with the help of their assistants, struggled 
bravely to get the blowers in operation and kept at this task until 
they succumbed to the gas and were carried to the top of the turret, 


where they revived, though they were thought dead when dragg 
out of the engine room. Lieutenant Greene, the executive officer, 
few days latter gave an account of the Monitor'- 's experience in a letl 
written to his mother, which is regarded as the most graphic nan 
tive of the event in existence, and which has been twice published 
the United Service Magazine (In April, 1885 and October, 189! 
in which he speaks of this incident as follows: " Our engineers \ 
haved like heroes, every one of them. They fought with the gi 
endeavoring to get the blowers to work, until they dropped appi 
ently dead. ' ' In the meantime the fires had become so low from wai 
and loss of air that the pumps stopped and loss by foundering becai 
imminent. The tug was directed to steer shoreward and after fc 
or five hours of constant peril smoother water was reached, t 
machinery started again, water pumped out, and danger for the til 
averted. It was then evening of the 7th, and for a time safe pi 
gress was made, but soon after midnight danger once more appear 
as thus described by Lieutenant Greene in the letter to his mother 

" We were just passing a shoal, and the sea suddenly becai 
rough and right ahead. It came up with tremendous force through c 
anchor-well, and forced the air through our hawse-pipe where t 
chain comes, and then the water would rush through in a perft 
stream, clear to our berth deck, over the wardroom table. T 
noise resembled the death-groans of twenty men, and was the mi 
dismal, awful sound I have ever heard. Of course the captain a 
myself were on our feet in a moment, and endeavored to stop 1 
hawse-pipe. We suceeded partially, but now the water began 
come down our blowers again, and we feared the same accident t] 
happened in the afternoon. We tried to hail the tug-boat, but 1 
wind being dead ahead they could not hear us, and we had no v. 
of signaling them, as the steam- whistle which father had recommenc 
had not been put on. 

"We began then to think the ' Monitor ' would never see di 
light. We watched carefully every drop of water that went do 
the blowers, and sent continually to ask the fireman how they w< 
going. His only answer was ' Slowly,' but could not be kept goi 
much longer' unless the water could be kept from coming do-v 
The sea was washing completely over the decks, and it was dang 


ous for a man to go on them, so we could do nothing to the blowers. 
In the midst of all this our wheel-ropes jumped off the steering 
wheel (owing to the pitching of the ship), and became jammed. She 
now began to sheer about at an awful rate, and we thought our haw- 
ser would certainly part. Fortunately it was new, and held on well. 
In the course of half an hour we freed our wheel-ropes, and now the 
blowers were the only difficulty. About three o'clock Saturday A. 
M. the sea became a little smoother, though still rough, and going 
down our blowers somewhat." 

By 8 o'clock the next morning smooth water was again found 
and the Monitor slowly and wearily pursued her voyage, entering the 
Capes of the Chesapeake about 4 p. m. Here they heard the sound 
of shotted guns, for the Merrimac was at that moment in the midst 
of her carnival of destruction, and the worn-out crew infused with 
new life cleared their novel and untried craft for action. A pilot- 
boat coming out told them of what was going on at Newport News 
but the tale of big frigates being helpless in the presence of any 
known form of enemy was so improbable that it was not believed 
until night came on and the .pitiful spectacle of the doomed Congress 
loomed up in lines of fire against the dark sky. About 9 p. m. the 
Monitor anchored in Hampton Roads and Worden reported in person 
to Captain Marsden on the Hoanoke. 

In view of the events of the day it was decided without hesita- 
tion to disregard the order of the Department to send the Monitor 
direct to Washington, the occasion for which she was built being 
nearer at hand. The programme of the enemy for the morning so 
obviously would begin with an attack upon the grounded Minnesota 
that Worden was ordered to go up to Newport News to protect that 
vessel if he could, so the Monitor got under way again and about 2 
a. m. came to anchor near the distressed frigate, her wearied crew 
spending the rest of the night in repairing damages wrought by the 
sea and in making ready for the struggle that they knew would come 
with the morning. 

The stage settings were now complete; the curtain had fallen 
just before upon the last of a long series of glorious deeds performed 
under a slowly-fading system of seamanship that had many years be- 
fore reached its culmination, and a new order of seamanship with a 
new type of sea warrior was about to appear upon the stage. The 


engineer's machine of John Ericsson was to face the fabric that rej 
resented the engineering ingenuity of the South, and the telegraph] 
tidings of their encounter would inflict an inconsolable fright upo 
the old romance of the sea, and in an hour reduce the masted navie 
of the world to mere collections of picturesque and useless relics. 


' ' The old must fall, and time itself must change, 
And thus new life shall blossom from the ruins." 


1862— The Civil War, Continued— First Fight of Iron-Clads— Effects of the 
Battle — Extraordinary Services Eendered by Chief Engineer Stimers — 
Attack on Drury's Bluff— The Galena Badly Injured — Gallantry of As- 
sistant Engineer J. W. Thomson. 

THE morning of Sunday, March 9, dawned upon a peaceful scene 
in Hampton Roads. The Roanoke and St. Lawrence were lying 
at anchor near Fortress Monroe; the Minnesota, still aground off New- 
port News, overshadowed with her great hull the Monitor lying beside 
her, and off Sewall's Point, black and ominously still, was the Mer- 
rimac. The topmasts of the Cumberland sticking out of the water and 
blackened wreckage about the spot where the Congress burned were 
the only signs that anything unusual had happened or was likely 
to happen. Soon after daylight, volumes of black smoke appeared 
over the Merrimac, rising and spreading in the quiet morning air into 
a cloud that must have seemed a veritable embodiment of the Shadow 
of Death to the men in the Federal ships. 

About 8 a. m. the Merrimac got under way and proceeded slowly 
up towards the Eip Eaps in order to swing into the channel whence 
she could assail the Minnesota. Captain Buchanan's wound of the day 
before had proved so serious that he had been obliged to give up his 
command to the first lieutenant, Catesby Ap E. Jones, who was now 
taking the ship into action. Lieutenant Jones, upon whom the re- 
sponsibility for the day's work rested, was about forty years of age 
and was a thoroughly trained naval officer, having seen twenty-five 
years' service in the old navy in the grades from midshipman to lieu- 
tenant. One cannot resist the temptation to pause a moment and 
speculate upon the possibilities that must have arisen before the men- 
tal vision of this young and ambitious officer as he moved his destroy- 
ing machine slowly up to the place for action. The events of the day 
before left no doubt as to the outcome of the combat he was about to 


precipitate, and looking beyond his actual surroundings his mind 
eye saw the cities of the North laid under ransom by his guns; tl 
national capitol abandoned; the sovereignty of the South acknow 
edged; the war ended, and himself its central naval figure: hewou] 
be the admiral of the Southern navy; perhaps the president of the ne 
nation of the South. It was indeed an hour of vast possibilities f( 

Turning leisurely down the main ship-channel the Merrimc 
headed for the Minnesota and opened fire when still a mile distan' 
the first shot striking the counter near the water line but doing no s« 
rious damage. Whatever dreams of conquest Lieutenant Jones ma 
have indulged in earlier in the morning he was now giving all his al 
tention to the material scene about him, and as he looked away t 
where the Minnesota lay stranded to see the effect of his shot, his ey 
fell on an unfamiliar object. The Monitor had moved out from be 
hind the big frigate and was coming unflinchingly across the stretc 
of water to meet him. This movement of the Monitor excited the ad 
miration of Captain Van Brunt of the Minnesota, who said in his offi 
cial report that she ran " right within range of the Merrimac com 
pletely covering my ship as far as was possible with her diminutiv 
dimensions, and much to my astonishment laid herself right along 
side of the Merrimac, and the contrast was that of a pigmy to a giant. ' 

On board the Monitor every preparation for battle had bee: 
made, but the officers and men were kept up by nervous excitemer 
rather than by physical strength; almost without exception they ha 
been without sleep for more than forty-eight hours, and on account c 
lack of facilities for cooking had had no proper food to sustain them 
Worden had left a sick bed to go on board at New York and had sui 
fered much on the voyage down. Newton, who had been at thepoir 
of death when dragged out of the engine-room on the occasion of th 
stoppage of the blowers, was confined to his bed and reported as be 
ing unable to do duty for at least a week; when the call to arms sounded 
however, he got up and performed his part in the fight courageousl 
and well. There was scarcely a man in the ship who would not hav 
been in a condition of physical prostration had it not been for the ex 
citement due to the presence of the enemy. 

Worden took his station in the pilot house, Greene with sixteen me 
in charge of the guns in the turret, Stodder at the turret turning gea 



and "Webber had the small powder division on the berth deck. Stodder 
was disabled early in the action by the concussion of a shot striking the 
turret when he was touching it and Stimers took his place, he having 
volunteered at the beginning of the fight to go in the turret and show 
the people how to operate it. The pilot house,built log cabin fashion of 
iron beams or billets, 9 inches by 12 inches, with the corners dovetailed 
and bolted together, was far forward on deck with no means of com- 
, municating with the turret except by a speaking tube; this became 
disconnected soon after the fight began and communication between 
Worden and Greene then had to be maintained by passing the word 
along the berth deck, Paymaster Keeler and the captain's clerk doing 
this important service. The great error of separating the captain 
from the battery was remedied in the later monitors by simply plac- 
ing the pilot-house on top of the turret, engineer Isaac Newton hav- 
ing suggested this arrangement immediately after the fight. As an 
offset to the wearied condition of the Monitor's men, the Merrimac 
was far from being in perfect fighting trim. Two of her guns were 
disabled by the loss of their muzzles, her ram had been wrenched off, 
and the upper part of the smoke-pipe was shot away. This last was 
her greatest injury for it so impaired the furnace draft that steam 
could not be maintained at anything like a proper working pressure, 
and her motions were consequently extremely sluggish. Speed is a 
word hardly applicable to either the Monitor or Merrimac, but by rea- 
son of the damage to the latter the great advantage of quicker move- 
ment rested with the Monitor. 

The first shot fired at the Monitor missed her and the Confeder- 
ates realized that they no longer had the big hull of a frigate for a 
target. Further enlightenment regarding the altered status of their 
antagonists came quickly in the furious impact of the heavy Xl-inch 
solid shot of the Monitor against their casemate, knocking men down 
and leaving them dazed and bleeding at the nose, ears and mouth. 
It will be needless to repeat the circumstantial account of the com- 
bat, which has been told so carefully by so many writers. Neithe r 
vessel could penetrate the armor of the other, which prevented the 
question of their supremacy being definitely settled and left it open 
to dispute ever since. Each at different stages of the fight tried ram- 
ming, the Monitor with the most success as she struck her enemy 
fairly enough near the stem, having aimed to injure the propeller, 


but on account of the smoke and other obstacles to exact steerinj 
missed the vital spot by about three feet only. The Merrimac's at 
tempt resulted in a harmless glancing blow, the superior speed of th 
Monitor making it an easy matter to elude her antagonist. 

After about an hour of fighting, the Merrimac tried to give the Monito 
up as a bad task and turned her attention again to the Minnesota, tin 
first shell fired at the frigate passing " through the chief engineer 'i 
state-room, through the engineers' mess-room, amidships, and burs 
in the boatswain's room, tearing four rooms into one in its passage 
and exploding two charges of powder, which set the ship on fire." : 
The second shell exploded the boiler of tug-boat Dragon lying along 
side the Minnesota, and by the time the third shell was thrown th 
Monitor, not disposed to be ignored, had again interposed betweei 
the Minnesota and her assailant and thereafter she engrossed the en 
tire attention of the enemy. Shortly after this diversion the ammu 
nition in the Monitor' 's turret became exhausted and she had to go oui 
of action to replenish it, the scuttle by which it was passed being im- 
possible to use except when the turret was stationary and in a certair 
position. This circumstance greatly encouraged the Confederates 
who believed their opponent to be disabled from their fire, but in i 
quarter of an hour their hopes were dispelled by the Monitor resum- 
ing the fight more vigorously than ever. 

Soon after 11 a. m. Lieutenant Worden, while looking througl 
a sight-hole in the pilot-house, was disabled by a shell striking and 
exploding immediately in front of his eyes, he being temporarily 
blinded and his face terribly burned and cut by the flying grains oi 
powder and bits of iron. The steersman was stunned for a fe-w 
minutes by the concussion also and in that short space of time the 
Monitor without anyone in control of her ran off aimlessly towards 
shoal water away from the fight, for no one had signalled the 
engine-room to stop. This gave such an appearance of defeat thai 
on the Minnesota all hope was abandoned and every preparatior 
made for setting the ship on fire and abandoning her. In a shorl 
time, however, Lieutenant Greene learned of the casualty in the 
pilot-house and, leaving Stimers in charge of the guns, took com- 
mand of the ship and turned upon his foe again. Then to the 

1 Official report of Captain Van Brunt of the Minnesota. 


amazement of all the Merrimac suddenly gave up the fight and 
steamed away toward Norfolk. Oatesby Jones reported afterward 
as a reason for withdrawing at this time that he believed the Monitor 
disabled and he was very desirous of crossing the Elizabeth River 
bar before ebb tide. There was no reason for believing the Monitor 
out of action and every reason for believing the contrary, for when 
she returned under the command of Greene, Stimers fired two or 
three shots against the Merrimac, which were the last guns of the 
encounter. Had the Confederates believed in their success to the 
extent of demanding the surrender of the Monitor, Greene could 
and very probably would have replied in the words used long before 
by John Paul Jones under similar circumstances — "We have not 
yet begun to fight. ' ' 

Lieutenant Greene did not follow the retreating enemy, the 
orders under which the Monitor fought limiting her action to a de- 
fense of the Federal ships, the Minnesota especially. Greene was 
very young at the time and inexperienced in judging of the amount 
of discretion allowed a commanding officer in obeying orders in 
battle, so it was with many misgivings that he allowed the Merri- 
mac to go unmolested while he returned to the side of the Minne- 
sota, but the superior officers of both army and navy present 
sustained his action and assured him that he had done exactly the 
right thing. Curious as it appears, many able writers have in- 
dulged in much argument to prove which of the two iron-clads won 
the fight. The Merrimac won a most decided victory in her attack 
upon the wooden sailing vessels the first day of her appearance, 
but when all argument regarding the second day's fight is ex- 
hausted a few very pertinent facts remain undisturbed. When the 
Merrimac got up steam in the morning it was obviously for no other 
purpose than to destroy the Federal vessels in Hampton Roads, and 
she did not destroy anything. When the day was done she was 
not even in Hampton Roads herself. The Monitor was ordered to 
protect the wooden ships, and she protected them. When night 
came she was still on guard over them, grim, ugly, and ready to 

The Monitor was struck twenty-one times in the action and 
fired forty-one Xl-inch solid shot. The most damaging blow she 
received was from the shell which disabled Worden, this having 


cracked one of the heavy iron logs of the pilot-house entir 
through and forced the fractured ends inboard an inch and a hi 
besides knocking the loose cover of the pilot-house half off. T 
deepest indentation in her turret was two inches and the deep 
score on her deck was only one-half inch. Two people in 
turret were disabled by concussion and Chief Engineer Stimers i 
hurt in the same way, but his injuries were slight and he plucl 
continued in the fight to the end. The Merrimac was struck nine 
seven times in the two days' fight, twenty of her shot marks be: 
from the guns of the Monitor. Six plates of her outer layer 
iron were penetrated but the inner layer was not broken. The ] 
inch guns of the Monitor were new and large for their time and • 
Bureau of Ordnance was suspicious of them, having issued ord 
not to use more than fifteen pounds of powder for their charj 
otherwise their shot would probably have broken into the casern 
of the Merrimac. At a later period greater confidence regardi 
these guns was entertained and thirty, and even fifty pounds 
powder were safely used in charging them. Engineer Isaac N« 
ton, who was very level-headed about such matters, testified bef 
the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War that 
believed the failure of the Monitor to destroy her antagonist \ 
due entirely to the low powder charges prescribed. He also t< 
ified to his belief that, "But for the injury received by Lieuten 
Worden, that vigorous officer would very likely have badgered 
Merrimac to a surrender." The Merrimac having been hasi 
equipped and not expecting to meet any but wooden ships 1 
nothing but shell on board; had she been provided with solid s 
the effect upon the Monitor might have been different. 

The success of the Monitor completely changed the aspeci 
the opening military operations of the year and raised the Nc 
from a depth of apprehension to a pinnacle of hope and jubilati 
No single event of the Civil War so thoroughly aroused the entli 
iastic admiration of the loyal North as did this Sunday duel 
Hampton Koads, and the Monitor and her crew be'came the gi 
and almost only subject for public discussion and applause. r 
world is prone to sing the praises of the warrior who destroys, 
to neglect the honors due to him who makes the soldier's suc< 
possible by providing him with his armor and his weapons, bu 


this case the patient toiler reaped the greater glory, and the name 
and fame of John Ericsson went to the uttermost parts of the earth. 
Worden, Greene, Stimers and Newton were all heroes in the public 
estimation and saw their pictures and the story of their deeds in the 
public prints for many a day, but all the applause showered upon 
them was little compared to the perfect avalanche of honors heaped 
upon Ericsson the Engineer. The reason for this unusual sentiment 
is easily found. Ericsson had been for several months held up to 
ridicule and abuse to such an extent by the press that he and his 
work were known to all men, and when his hour of triumph came, 
that innate sense of sympathy for the ' ' under dog " in a fight mani- 
fested itself joyously at seeing him suddenly and unexpectedly come 
uppermost. Ericsson's enemies had so overdone the matter of per- 
secution that in the end he owed much of his fame tb their acts. 

Abroad, the news of the battle created a profound sensation and 
more than one naval power whose commercial interests or thirst for 
foreign conquest had led to the point of seriously preparing to assail 
the American Republic in the day of its distress, now paused to 
take a sober second thought and ultimately concluded to check their 
designs. ' ' Probably no naval conflict in the history of the world 
ever attracted as much attention as did the battle in Hampton 
Roads, between the Monitor and the Merrimac. It revolutionized 
the navies of the world, and showed that the wooden ships, which 
had long held control of the ocean, were of no further use for fight- 
ing purposes. Commenting upon the news of that event, the Lon- 
don said: ' Whereas we had available for immediate pur- 
poses one hundred and forty-nine first-class war-ships, we have now 
two, these two being the Warrior and her sister Ironside. There 
is not now a ship in the English navy, apart from these two, that it 
would not be madness to trust to an engagement with that little 
Monitor. ' England and all other maritime powers immediately pro- 
ceeded to reconstruct their navies, and the old fashioned three and 
four-decker line-of-battle ships were condemned as useless. Not 
only in ships, but in their armament, there was rapid progress, and 
so great has been the advance in marine artillery that the Monitors 
of 1862, and the subsequent years of the American war, would be 
unable to resist the shot from the guns of 1880-'87. ni 

1 Thomas W. Knox; — Decisive Battles since Waterloo. 



On March 28, by joint resolution, Congress passed a vot 
thanks to Ericsson for his "enterprise, skill, energy, and forecj 
in the design and construction of the Monitor, and he was the 
cipient of similar honors from the Legislature of the State of '. 
York and from innumerable civil organizations and socie 
Lieutenant Worden was tendered the thanks of Congress by a rei 
tion approved July 11, 1862, and in the following February 
given more substantial recognition for his great service by a se 
resolution authorizing his advancement one grade, that is, to 
rank of captain, he having been promoted to commander in 
meantime. Ericsson steadily maintained that Stimers and 
Worden was the real hero of the Monitor, because he alone o: 
on board knew how to operate the various mechanisms of 
vessel, without . which knowledge she would have been ut 
useless in the face of the enemy. At a banquet given him bj 
New York Chamber of Commerce Ericsson made a point of as 
ing in his speech that he regarded the success of the Monito 
' ' entirely owing to the presence of a master-mind (Mr. Stimei 
a belief which he defended at length and with an indisputable i 
of facts. 

This public laudation of Stimers, not confined by any mea: 
Ericsson, greatly disturbed Lieutenant Worden and his friends. 
Worden, as late as two years after the fight, waited upon 
Griswold, a Member of Congress and a friend of Ericsson, hs 
been one of his sureties in the enterprise of building the ., 
itor, to complain of the fancied injustice done him by Eric 
Of this interview Mr. Griswold wrote to Ericsson: " I 
just had a call from Captain Worden. He thinks you did 
injustice in your Chamber of Commerce remarks for the sal 
complimenting Stimers, and says the ' master-spirit ' had nothi: 
all to do with the affairs of the Merrimac, was not consulted, 
was in no special way tributary to the result of that combat. ' ' 
spite of this assertion, the great weight of testimony goes to 
that Stimers was consulted and was in a special way "tribut: 
to the result of the action. Assistant Secretary of the Navy 
who saw the fight, telegraphed the Navy Department as soon i 

1 W. C. Church;— Life of John Ericsson, Vol. I, p. 298. 





































j, .< 








could learn particulars that "Lieutenant Worden, who com- 
manded the Monitor, handled her with great skill, and was assisted 
by Chief Engineer Stimers." He could have had no other object 
in mentioning Stimers' name, to the exclusion of the other 
officers, in this message except the wish to have the Department 
understand who, next to "Worden, deserved credit for the victory of 
the Monitor. 

Lieutenant Greene in the letter to his mother before quoted 
from in these pages, and which for obvious reasons is more apt to 
reveal unvarnished facts than a formal official report that would 
become a public document, says in regard to the officers' stations 
for battle : "Acting Master Stodder was at the wheel which turns 
the tower, hut as he could not manage it, he was relieved by 
Stimers." The italics are the author's. 

Mr. W. C. Church, who cannot be accused of partiality for 
Mr. Stimers, says in his Life of John Ericsson: "During the pass- 
age from New York, the working gear of the turret was permitted 
to rust for want of proper cleaning and oiling, and it worked with 
so much difficulty during the engagement with the Merrimac that, 
but for the energy and determination of Engineer Stimers, it might 
not have revolved at all." 

Proofs like the above may be multiplied, but these are suffi- 
cient for every logical purpose. The writer has no desire to 
magnify the services of Mr. Stimers, especially as it will become a 
duty as this history progresses to narrate certain mistakes of that 
officer whereby the naval engineer corps suffered the most serious 
reflection upon its professional competence that it has ever experi- 
enced, but from an impartial review of all the facts connected with 
the Monitor- Merrimac battle the conclusion is plain that Chief 
Engineer Alban C. Stimers was the one person on board the Mon- 
itor who thoroughly knew how to use that vessel and her weapons, 
and but for his presence the result of the combat would in all 
probability have been very different, and most disastrous to the 
Monitor, to the reputation of Lieutenant Worden, and to the cause 
of the Union. 

The day after the fight of the iron-clads, the Minnesota was 
floated and soon restored to serviceable condition. Immediately 
thereafter the Union fleet in Hampton Koads began receiving addi- 


tions almost daily, for the naval occupation of this position wai 
important element in the grand campaign against Richmond the 
movement by the Army of the Potomac. The Merrimac ret 
to Norfolk where she was docked by Constructor Porter, her pla 
repaired and strengthened, and a new spur fitted to her bow. 
rough-and-ready old commodore, Josiah Tatnall, was placed in c 
mand and great things were expected. On two occasions — A 
11 and May 8 — she went into Hampton Roads and looked at 
Monitor and the Federal fleet, but no fight occurred at either ti 
From the reports of the Federal commander-in-chief, Goldsboroi 
and of Tatnall it appears that each party earnestly desired a con 
and that the other was afraid, or at least avoided hostilities. 

Military operations compelled the surrender of Norfolk to 
Union forces on the 10th of May, and Tatnall endeavored to i 
the Merrvmac by taking her up the James river, but finding he 
draw several feet too much water for the river he reluctantly set 
on fire and abandoned her. Early on the morning of May 11 
fire reached her magazine and she blew up. This event occasic 
such a wild outburst of public grief in Richmond that for a tin 
was feared the governmental departments of the Confederacy w 
be attacked by a mob. The Merrimac had been proudly called 
' ' iron diadem of the South, ' ' and had been so confidently re 
upon for the defense of the James River that after her destruc 
serious thoughts of surrendering Richmond were entertained, 
men of the Merrimac were utilized to man a battery up the rive 
Drury's Bluff, where a few days later they again encountered I 
old foes of the Monitor. 

Immediately after the destruction of the Merrimac, FlagOi 
Goldsborough took possession of the lower part of James li 
with his flagship, the /Susquehanna, and a number of smaller ves 
sending Commander John Rodgers with the Galena, Monitor, A 
took and Port Boyal on an expedition up the river. The Ga 
had just come from the builders' works at Mystic, Conn., and 
be recalled as the iron-clad gunboat built in accordance with th 
port of the board on armored vessels of the previous year. 
Monitor was now commanded by Lieutenant William N. Jei 
The Aroostook was one of the ninety-day gunboats and the 
Royal was one of the first lot of double-enders. Accompan 


them was the vessel fitted out by the Stevens brothers to demon- 
strate the excellence of their system of protective armor, this vessel 
being referred to indiscriminately in the official reports as the Ncm- 
gatuok and the "U. S. revenue steamer E. A. Stevens-" she was 
commanded by a revenue marine lieutenant named D. C. Con- 

The morning of May 15 this squadron came up to Ward's, or 
Drury's Bluff, eight miles below Eichmond, where the river was 
found obstructed with piles and sunken vessels and defended by a 
heavy battery mounted about two hundred feet above the water. 
The Galena and Monitor anchored about six hundred yards from the 
battery and the unarmored vessels about twice that distance, all 
opening fire upon the enemy's works. The Monitor soon had to re- 
move to a greater distance on account of being unable to elevate her 
guns sufficiently. She was struck only three times during the attack 
and had'no casualities. The 100-pounder Parrott gun of the Nau- 
gatuek burst early in the action and disabled that vessel as it was the 
only gun she had, the accident resulting eventually in the discour- 
agement of the efforts of the Stevens brothers to induce the govern- 
ment to accept their unfinished battery. 

The Galena, at anchor and with her broadside sprung towards the 
enemy's battery, proved a fine target and was very roughly used by 
the plunging shot from the bluff, which struck her sloping side 
armor almost at right angles. In the plain words of her commander, 
John Eodgers, "We demonstrated that she is not shot proof." 
Thirteen shot penetrated the side armor, several coming clear through 
and doing great damage to the crew by scattering splinters and frag- 
ments of the iron plating, while others stuck in the wooden backing 
after passing through the plating. One shell made a clean passage 
through the side and exploded in the steerage, setting the ship on 
fire. The spar deck was badly splintered and broken through in 
some places. All along the port side, which was the one exposed, 
knees, planks, bulkheads, and beams were splintered and started 
out of place. Although exposed to this terrible riddling, Commander 
Eodgers kept his ship in action for more than three hours and only 
withdrew when his ammunition was nearly expended. The Galena 
had thirteen men killed and eleven wounded; the Naugatuch, two 
wounded, and the Port Royal had her commander, George Morris, 


The following extracts from the official report of Comm 
Rodgers of the Galena refer to meritorious services performi 
members of the engineer department of that vessel: 

"Mr. J. W. Thomson, first assistant engineer, coolly re] 
some of the valve gear which broke down, under fire, and und 
direction a fire in the steerage, caused by an exploding shel' 
extinguished before the regular firemen reached the place." 

' ' Mr. T. T. Millholland, third assistant engineer, in char 
the steam fire department, was active and efficient; as a i 
shooter he did good service. ' ' 

" Charles Keny on, fireman, was conspicuous for persistent 
age in extracting a priming wire, which had become bent and 
in the bow gun, and in returning to work the piece after .his 
severely burnt, had been roughly dressed by himself with c 
waste and oil." 

The Wachusett being at City Point in the James River the 
of May, it was represented to her captain that there were no j 
cians in the town and that some of the people, mostly womei 
children, were in great need of medical attendance. The em 
lines were believed to be about eight miles from the town, so 
was apparently no danger in answering this appeal. Assistanl 
geon G. D. Slocum volunteered to go on shore and minister t 
distressed people if some of his shipmates would go with him, h 
caring to be entirely alone in an enemy's town, and Assistant 
master L. S. Stockwell, Chief Engineer Charles H. Baker, and 
tenant DeFord of the army signal corps agreed to accompany 
On shore, while visiting the sick, a detachment of Confederate 
airy suddenly appeared and made prisoners of the officers and t 
the boat's crew with them, carrying them off to Petersburg, 
that place the commander of the district, General Huger, apolo 
to them for the stupidity of his men and said he would have 
released, as they had been captured while rendering humane a 
citizens of Virginia, and, furthermore, were unarmed with the e 
tion of side arms when taken. 

The Richmond authorities refused to release the prisone: 
General Huger's recommendation and they were accordingly 


to a military prison at Salisbury, North Carolina, and confined in 
that place. The peculiar action of the Eichmond government in 
this case -was due to the fact that there was talk at the North of treat- 
ing some Confederate officers captured on privateers as pirates, and 
the Southerners wished to hold some Federal naval officers as hos- 
tages to insure their own officers being treated as prisoners of war. 
After a detention of twelve weeks in Salisbury, Mr. Baker and some 
of the others were transferred to Libby prison in Richmond, and 
about a week later were allowed to enter the Union lines on parole. 
On the 24th of September Chief Engineer Baker was exchanged for 
a Confederate army captain and resumed duty under his own flag. 


" He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat ; 
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgement-seat ; 
Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him ; be jubilant, my feet ; 
Our God is marching on." 
Julia Ward Howe — Battle-Hymn of the Bepu 

1862— The Civil War, Continued — Naval Operations in the Mississippi River 
— Battles Below New Orleans — Catastrophe to the Mound City — Attack 
on Vicksburg — Warfare on the Atlantic Coast — Wreck of the Addion- 
dack — Loss of the Monitor — Peril of the Passaic — Heroism of Assistant 
Engineer H. W. Robie. 

AS soon as a sufficient number of iron-clad steamers in the Mis 
f~\ sippi were completed, Commodore Foote hastened to make 
of them, the first hostile movement being an attack upon Fort Hei 
which was captured Februry 6th after a closely contested actioi 
little more than one hour. The attacking force consisted of the ii 
clads Benton, (Foote's flagship); Essex, Carondelet, and St. Louis, 
the wooden gunboats Conestoga, Tyler, and Lexington. The att 
was planned as a joint army and navy enterprise by General TJ. 
Grant and Commodore Foote, but owing to the wretched condii 
of the roads the army was delayed and consequently did not si 
in the honor of the capture, the fort having surrendered to the m 
force. From Fort Henry, Foote moved with his flotilla to I 
Donelson, which place he attacked February 14th. Here he 
with much more vigorous opposition than had been experience! 
Fort Henry, and in the course of an hour and a half two of his i 
sels were temporarily disabled, and the attack was discontinued 
the night. The next morning, upon resuming the bombardm< 
the enemy was found considerably demoralized and after a fe< 
resistance surrendered. 

A naval movement on a far greater scale was already on fi 
having for its object the opening of the Mississippi River fron 
mouth. Captain David G. Farragut was selected for the comm 
of this expedition and in his flagship, the Hartford, arrived on 
20th of February oft the mouth of the great river where he wai 



make his name famous. The vessels ordered to this station assem- 
bled one by one at the Southwest Pass and the entire month of 
March was consumed in the task of getting the heavier ships into 
the deep water of the river inside, which labor was finally accom- 
plished with the exception of the Colorado, which vessel could not be 
lightened enough to make her entrance possible. Her commander 
and a large number of her officers and men went as volunteers in 
other ships of the fleet. As finally assembled in the river at Pilot 
Town the fleet proper consisted of seventeen vessels of the classes 
and armament exhibited in the table following. The Varv/na was a 
merchant steamer purchased in 1861 for $135,000, but all the others 
will be recognized as being regularly built war- vessels and all, with 
the exception of the Mississippi, of a type then modern. 






Screw Sloops 









Capt. D. G. Farragut. 1 
Capt. H. H. Bell. 4 
Capt. H. W. Morris. 8 
Capt. T. T. Craven. 
Com. James Al'den. 
Com. S. P. Lee. 
Com. Chas. S. Boggs. 
Com. John DeCamp. 

Chief Engr. J. B. Kimball. 

Chief Eng. S. D. Hibbert. 
Chief Eng. Wm. B. Brooks. 
Chief Eng. John W. Moore. 
Chief Eng. F. C. Dade. 
Act. 1st. A. Eng. R. Henry. 
1st Asst. Eng. John H. Long. 



Side Wheel. 

Mississippi .. 



Com. M. Smith. 

Chief Eng. E. Lawton. 




Lieut. N. B. Harrison. 
Lieut. C. H. B. Caldwell. 
Lieut. Geo. H. Preble. 
Lieut. J. H. Eussell. 
Lieut. G. M. Ransom. 
Lieut. Pierce Crosby. 
Lieut. E. Donaldson. 
Lieut. E. T. Nichols. 
Lieut. A. N. Smith. 

2d. Asst. Eng. G. W. Rodgers. 
2d. Asst. Eng. J. H. Morrison. 
2d. As. Eng. T. M. Dukehart. 
2d. As. Eng. Henry W. Fitch. 
2d. As. Eng. S. W. Cragg. 
1st As. Eng. John Johnson. 
2d. A. Eng. Chas. E. Devalin. 
2d. A. Eng, Jas. P. Sprague. 
2d. A. Eng. T. S. Cunningham. 

Katahdin. ... 


1 Flag Officer, commanding fleet. 

" Fleet-Captain. Commander Richard Wainwright actually commanded the 
Hartford during the ensuing operations. 

3 Owing to Captain Morris' defective eyesight, the executive officer, Lieutenant 
F. A. Roe, was in praotical charge of this ship. 


In addition to this force there was also a flotilla of ta 
schooners under the command of Commander David D. Porter, 
schooner mounting one XHI-inch mortar. These vessels were m 
commanded by their former captains, who had entered the nava' 
vice as acting masters and were excellent examples of that large 
courageous class of practical seamen who contributed so large 
the success of the naval arms during the rebellion. Their chan 
and services were well understood by Porter, who thus refe 
them in a report written by him in July, 1862: 

"Again, sir, I have to mention favorably the divisional offii 
and the acting masters commanding mortar vessels. Anchort 
all times in a position selected by myself, more with regard tc 
object to be accomplished than to any one's comfort or sal 
knowing that they will have to stay there without a chance of 
ting away till I think proper to remove them, (no matter how t 
the shot and shell may fly) there has always existed a rivalry : 
who shall have the post of honor (the leading vessel) almost cei 
to be struck, if not destroyed. 

"They know no weariness, and they really seem to take 
light in mortar firing, which is painful even to those accustome 
it. It requires more than ordinary zeal to stand the ore 
Though I may have at times been exacting and fault-finding 
them for not conforming with the rules of the service (whicl 
quires the education of a life-time to learn) yet I cannot with 
my applause when I see these men working with such earnest 
untiring devotion to their duties while under fire." 

Six steamers accompanied the mortar fleet to move 
schooners about and to protect them in a measure from att 
that their peculiar armament could not oppose, these steamers b 
the Owasco, Miami, Harriet Lane, Westfield, Clifton, and J 
Jackson. The Owasco was a ninety-day gunboat; the Miami 
of the first lot of double-enders; the Harriet Lane a side- wheel 
enue cutter transferred from the Treasury Department, and 
other three were large and heavily- armed side- wheel ferry-boat 

After the fleet had stripped for action and left at Pilot T 
all spars, sails, rigging and unnecessary boats, it moved up tc 


desperate undertaking of attacking and passing the two forts, 
Jackson and St. Phillip, most advantageously located at a bend on 
opposite banks of the riyer. A short distance below the forts the 
river was barred with a combination of large log rafts and schoon- 
ers at anchor, supporting heavy chains reaching from bank to bank. 
Auxiliary to the forts and above them in the river was a flotilla of 
Confederate vessels, consisting of four naval steamers, six gunboats 
of the local River Defense Fleet, and two armed steamers belong- 
ing to the State of Louisiana. The most formidable of the Confed- 
erate naval vessels was the ram Manassas, which the previous 
October had been in action with the Richmond in the Southwest 
Pass and had somewhat damaged that vessel. She was originally 
a large sea-going tug-boat named Enoch Train and had been con- 
verted into a ram by being arched over with timber and plated with 
old-fashioned railroad strap iron, about an inch thick. She had 
twin screws and carried one 32-pounder gun pointing right ahead. 
Another of the naval vessels was the Louisiana, a large armored 
river steamer similar to the Federal iron-clad Benton described in a 
previous chapter; she had sixteen heavy guns, nine of them being 
VI and Vll-inch rifles, and would have been a formidable antago- 
nist had it not been for the fact that Farragut made his attack before 
her machinery was quite finished. The other naval vessels and the 
River Defense boats were river steamers mounting from two to 
seven guns each, lightly armored forward, and the two State vessels 
were small sea-going steamers, also armored on their bows, and 
mounting two guns each. 

The mortar flotilla was moved up to within about three thousand 
yards of Fort Jackson and rendered almost indistinguishable by 
dressing the masts with bushes and foliage, the vessels lying close 
to the bank with a background of trees. On the 18th of April they 
opened fire upon Jackson and for nearly six days maintained an 
almost uninterrupted bombardment, doing the enemy's works much 
damage and receiving some in return, one of the schooners being 
sunk at her anchors by a shell dropping completely through her. 
To divert the fire of the forts from the mortar fleet, a sloop of war 
and two or three gunboats were each day advanced into the zone of 
fire and effected the object satisfactorily by moving about near the 
head of the line of schooners and firing on the forts at the same 


time. The Oneida, just out of the shipyard where she was b 
was the first of the sloops to go into this fire and she demonstr 
that in spite of her pretty name of the beautiful lake of the 
quois she was to be ruled by an evil star, for her baptism of 
cost her many ugly hits and nine men badly wounded. The 
forth her career was one of misfortune, until finally in a far-dis 
sea she went to the bottom with the greater part of her crew. 

While the mortars were thus furiously engaged, Farragut 
making all ready for the attempt to run past the forts. One ir 
esting expedient adopted by him was the shifting of weights 
board all the vessels so that they were down by the head about 
foot, the object being to prevent the swift current from swinj 
them head down stream in case of taking the bottom, as w< 
have resulted had they grounded with the usual trim of the greE 
draft aft. All unnecessary top-hamper had been previously 
pensed with, and now five of the gunboats removed even t 
lower masts. Chain cables were stopped up and down the si 
sides to protect the machinery, and the vessels were rendi 
difficult to see on the muddy water by daubing them over with 
yellow mud of the river. These last two expedients were du< 
the ingenuity of engineers on board the Richmond. The us< 
chain cable for armor is said by several officers who were attac 
to the Richmond at the time to have been suggested by First As 
ant Engineer Eben Hoyt of that vessel and was proposed to 
commanding officer by the chief engineer, Mr. John W. Mo 
From Farragut's detailed report of the battles below New Orl< 
the following relating to this point is quoted: 

' ' Every vessel was as well prepared as the ingenuity of 
commander and officers could suggest, both for the preservatio 
life and of the vessel, and, perhaps, there is not on record sue 
display of ingenuity as has been evinced in this little squad 
The first was by the engineer of the Richmond, Mr. Moore, 
suggesting that the sheet cables be stopped up and down on 
sides in the line of the engines, which was immediately adopted 
all the vessels. ' ' 

Under the date of October 16, 1862, Chief Engineer Mo 


writing from the Richmond, then at Fensacola, addressed the Navy 
Department in regard to a change which had been made to his 
disadvantage in the arrangement of the list of chief engineers. On 
the original of this letter, now on file in the Department, in Admiral 
Farragut's own handwriting is the following endorsement: 

' ' Kespectf ully forwarded. Mr. Moore is the gentleman whom 
I mentioned in my official letter as the originator of cladding the 
ships with their chain cables and has always been spoken of by his 
Commander as a man of great merit both in and out of his pro- 

" Yery respectfully, 

D. G. Fakkagut." 

The commanding officer of the Richmond in forwarding Mr. 
Moore's protest took occasion to write the following letter, which 
certainly is conclusive as to whether or not the expedients referred 
to originated with members of the engineer corps: 

"Sir: — I have the honor to enclose herewith a remonstrance 
of Chief Engineer Moore of this vessel against the action of a Board 
of Examiners which has evidently done him great injustice. Being 
more or less interested in the welfare of all those serving under my 
command and feeling it a duty to come to their aid when they re- 
quire it, I trust that I shall be excused for thus trespassing on your 
valuable time and will proceed at once to the point. Imprimis 
then, Mr. Moore's professional standing has been fixed at the high- 
est point by the several Boards before which he has appeared, and 
to my mind he is justly entitled to that distinction; but I wish now 
to show the Department that he has besides that other claims to 
consideration. They are as follows: About this time last year I 
arrived at the Southwest Pass in the South Carolina pretty nearly 
broken down in machinery. Our main shaft was all adrift and 
neither the Niagara and Colorado could do anything for us. Mr. 
Moore, who was on board this ship at the time at the head of the 
passes, hearing of our trouble came down and very soon decided 
that he could make us all right again, and in less than three days 
we were, by his individual exertions, fully and efficiently repaired 


and off for our station. Again, the idea of mailing our vessels' 
sides, which was adopted by all the ships of the squadron, with 
chain cables, is his. We know that it saved this ship's as well as 
the Hartford's machinery from serious injury and consequently the 
vessels from destruction, the armor on both having been struck by 
solid shot in that vital locality. After the passage of the forts 
two-thirds of a 32-pounder shot, which had broken its way through 
parts of the chain, was found embedded in our side. The Captain 
of the Brooklyn says in his official report, in speaking of the ram 
Manassas: " His efforts to damage me were completely frustrated, 
our chain armor proving a perfect protection to our sides." Sub-: 
sequent examination showed, however, that the ship had received 
serious damage and that nothing out the armor saved her from 

' ' The idea of painting the ships with the mud of the Missis 
sippi on that memorable occasion so as to screen them as much as 
possible from observation, a color now adopted by the Department 
as national, is also Mr. Moore's. 

' ' Regretting my inability to state this case properly in fewer 
words, I am, Respectfully, Your obedient servant, 

"James Alden, Commander. 
"Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary U. S. Navy, Washington, D. C." 

The night of the 20th of April, Lieutenant Caldwell in the 
ItasTca most gallantly boarded one of the schooners supporting the 
barrier chain and, finding its ends bitted on board, slipped them 
and thus created a gap in the line of obstructions.- The night of the 
23rd Farragut made all final preparations for passing through the 
gap and running the batteries of the forts. A detailed account of the 
event that followed would fill a book the size of this if properly 
dealt with, and is, moreover, a story of our navy to which sufficient 
justice has never yet been done by historians, it being one of the 
greatest and most desperate engagements in our naval annals. 
Briefly, at 2 a. m. the 24th, the signal — two blood-red lights at the 
peak of the Hartford — was made for the movement to begin and 
the leading division, after some delay on account of difficulty in 


managing the anchors in the strong current, moved up through the 
opening and into furious action with the forts. This division was 
led by Captain Theodorus Bailey in the gunboat Cayuga, followed 
by the Pensacola, Mississippi, Oneida, Varima, Katahdin, Kineo, 
and Wissahickon, in the order named, and was under orders to pro- 
ceed along the left, or east, bank of the river, engaging Fort St. 
Phillip with the starboard batteries. Captain Bailey belonged to 
the Colorado and had hoisted his division flag on the Cayuga through 
the kindness of Lieutenant Napoleon B. Harrison commanding that 
vessel, the commander of the Oneida having previously objected to 
being overshadowed by the presence of a divisional officer on board 
his vessel, which objection cost him the honor of having his ship 
lead the first column. 

Behind Bailey's division came Farragut with the Hartford, 
BrooMyn and Richmond, forming what was called the center divi- 
sion, and this was followed by Fleet Captain Bell, leading the third 
division of six vessels, in the gunboat Sciota. The second and 
third divisions were to follow up the western bank and engage Fort 
Jackson with the port batteries. 1 The steamers attached to the 
mortar flotilla moved up near the forts as the fleet got under way 
and in conjunction with the mortar schooners opened a terrific can- 
nonading against the works, greatly augmented by the firing from 
the passing ships. In the heavy smoke that soon settled over the 
river it became impossible for signals to be read and much con- 
fusion resulted, each vessel being obliged to fight out its own des- 
tiny. With the air filled with bursting shells and obscured by 
smoke, the roar of heavy guns, the shouts of command, the screams 
of mangled men, and the river covered with fire rafts and burning 
wreckage, the scene was most awful and unearthly, and justified 
the brief comment made by Farragut in his official report: " Such a 
fire, I imagine, the world has rarely seen. ' ' 

The vessels suffered severely from damages and casualties, but 
within an hour and a quarter after the Cayuga had passed the gap 
in the barrier the fleet with the exception of three gunboats of the last 

1 The order of battle herein described is derived from the supplemental report 
published in the annual report of the Secretary of the Navy for 1869, which was in- 
tended as an official correction of numerous inaccuracies that had appeared in several 
naval histories. 


division— the Kennebec, Itasca and Winona— had passed above ti 
and appeared in the Confederate flotilla, ' 'like dogs among a f 
sheep," as Captain Mahan expresses it in his account of the 
in "The Gulf and Inland Waters." The three last gunboa 
to bear the brunt of the fire from the forts after the other m 
had passed out of range and were very roughly used; the Itasi 
wholly disabled by a shot through her boiler, two firemen 
severely scalded as a result, and the other gunboats suffer 
severely that the attempt to run the batteries appeared nc 
foolhardy but impossible. They rejoined the fleet a few 

The first vessels to break into the enemy's fleet we 
Cayuga and Varivna, both of which fared badly until 
vessels came up. The Vamma was rammed by two of the G 
erate boats and so damaged that her commander ran her a 
where she sank, the crew escaping previous to the disaster wi 
exception of three men killed and nine wounded. The Cayut 
badly cut up, being struck forty-two times, but she remaic 
action and individually received the surrender of three < 
enemy's vessels. The ram Manassas struck the Richmond ( 
starboard side and so crushed in her planking that she nms 
been destroyed had the blow been slightly heavier; as it wi 
chain armor saved her. The Manassas also rammed the ok 
wheel frigate Mississippi and nearly stove in her side, but th< 
being a glancing one the break did not extend entirely throuj 
side. These acts of the Manassas were committed while the t 
were in action with the forts. When the Federal fleet had ] 
up, the Mannassas was seen quietly following, and Captain M 
thon Smith of the Mississippi — a good fighter and a good Ch 
— asked and obtained permission by signal to go back and 
her. The ram seemed unwilling to try conclusions with the 
old ship coming straight down upon her with the swift curren 
just before the impending collision she shied high up into th< 
bank, where her crew made hurried preparations for her destr 
and abandonment, and then took to the shore. As soon as p< 
a boat was sent from the Mississippi to see what could be 
with her late antagonist, First Assistant Engineer William H. 
being in the boarding party to take charge of the machinery. 


>at soon returned, reporting that it was impracticable to save the 
Tanassas, -which had been set on fire and disabled, and Mr. Hunt 
1 his part reported that the piping through the hull had been cut, 
e water run out of sight in the boiler, the fires kept raging in 
ie furnaces, the safety valves shored down, and the steam 
lage showing 136 pounds (a frightful pressure in those days), 
-"with a tendency hellward." The Mississippi therefore re- 
irned up the river to rejoin the fleet. Later, the water coming in 
trough the cut pipes, depressed the stern of the Manassas, floated 
3r bow off the bank, and the current carried her down to Porter's 
Lortar fleet, where her appearance created considerable consterna- 
on, but she soon faintly exploded and sank. 

According to Flag Officer Farragut's report eleven of the 
aemy's steamers were destroyed during this morning fight, which 
ractically annihilated their fleet. The Federal fleet remained at 
ichor one day to rest the men and repair damages and on the 
lorning of the 25th, Captain Bailey in the Cayuga still leading, 
roceeded up the river, had a sharp skirmish with the Ohalmette 
atteries, and at noon anchored off the City of New Orleans. The 
ty was taken possession of and held by the naval force under 
ery strained and trying circumstances until May 1, when General 
. F. Butler arrived with a large force and assumed military con- 
ol of the place, the fleet soon after proceeding on its mission of 
mquest up the river. Commander Porter continued the bombard- 
Lent of the lower forts with his flotilla until the 28th of April, when 
ley surrendered to him. The casualties in the fleet during the 
attle of the 24th, as reported by the fleet surgeon, amounted to 
drty-seven killed and one hundred and forty-seven wounded, a 
scord that makes this one of the bloodiest naval battles of the re- 
sllion. Two officers, both midshipmen, were killed and eleven 
ere wounded ; three of the latter — Second Assistant Engineer S. 
r ilkins Cragg, acting chief of the Kineo; Third Assistant J. C. 
hartley of the Pensacola, and Acting Third Assistant Frank K. 
ain of the Colorado, serving as a volunteer on the Iroquois — were 
': the engineer corps, all injured by gunshot wounds. 

The reports of many of the commanding officers of vessels en- 
iged in this battle referred in terms of praise to the zeal and abil ■ 
y displayed by the engineers and .their men in keeping the machin- 



ery in efficient operation under trying conditions. Captain Bs 
in describing the battle afterward, on the occasion of a bai 
given him at the Astor House in New York, is credited with hi 
made the modest statement that, "the engineers ran the ships 
all we had to do was to blaze away when we got up to the fc 
Assistant Engineer Hartley of the Pensacola was most high 
f erred to in the official reports for the courage he exhibited; hi 
stationed at the engine-room bell and was wounded in the he; 
a piece of shell, and, although urged to go below for treat] 
refused to leave his station, remaining there all through the ai 

On the 28th of May Chief Engineer James B. Kimball o 
Hartford, while ashore in Baton Rouge with a boat's crew on 
was suddenly fired upon by the enemy and himself and two < 
men badly wounded. Mr. Kimball was struck in the head, 
and neck with slugs and most painfully hurt, although hi 

A frightful disaster befell a squadron of the Mississippi fl 
in June of this year. The gunboats Mound City, St. Louis, 
ington, and Gonestoga, under Commander Augustus H. Kilty < 
Mound City, were sent into White River to convoy som£ 
transports and assist in an attack upon some Confederate 
teries at St. Charles, Arkansas. The attack was made June 1 
resulted in the capture of the enemy's fortifications, but during it 
gress a shot penetrated the casemate of the Mound City just al 
gun port, killed three men in its flight, and exploded her steam i 
The immediate result was horrible; nearly eighty men were sc 
to death by the steam which filled the casemate, and forty 
others were drowned or shot by the enemy after leaping 
board. Of one hundred and seventy-five officers and men 
twenty-five escaped uninjured, the number killed or who i 
quently died being one hundred and thirty-five. Commander 
was so scalded that his left hand had to be amputated. A 
the killed were Chief Engineer John Cox; Second Assistant 
neer John C. McAfee, and Third Assistant G. W. Hoi 

Early in the morning of June 28th, Admiral Farragut wi 
Hartford, Richmond, Iroquois, Oneida, Wis&ahickon, £. 
Winona, and Pmola ran the batteries at Vicksburg, assisti 


>mmander Porter with his mortar flotilla. The military impor- 
nce of this move is not apparent, as the batteries were not de- 
coyed, and in the nature of things could not be materially harmed 
' ships, located as they were on bluffs high above the water 
p om Farragut's report it seems that the move was largely experi- 
ental, for he says: 

"In obedience to the orders of the department and the com- 
and of the President, I proceeded back to Yicksburg with the 
rookh/n, Richmond, and Hertford, with the determination to 
,rry out my instructions to the best of my ability. ' ' 

And again: 

' 'The department will perceive from this (my) report that the 
rts can be passed, and we have done it, and can do it again as 
'ten as may be required of us. It will not, however, be an easy 
atter for us to do more than silence the batteries for a time, as 
ng as the enemy has a large force behind the hills to prevent our 
nding and holding the place." 

One of Porter's steamers, the CUfton, was disabled in this 
fair by a shot through her boiler which killed six men by scalding, 
be total casualties of the morning were fifteen men killed and 
irty wounded, about one-third of the number being on the flag- 
tip. Farragut himself and Captain Broome of the Marine corps 
>pear on the surgeon's report of casualties as having suffered from 
•ntusions on the Hartford. The report of Commander S. P. Lee 
the Oneida says: " One 6-inch rifle shell came through the star- 
>ard after pivot port, killing S. H. Eandall, a seaman, at the after 
vot gun, severely wounding Eichard Hodgson, third assistant en- 
neer, at the engine bell, and, passing through the coamings of 
e engine-room hatch, picked up three loaded muskets, (each lying 
it on the deck, on the port side of that hatch) and burst into the 
ilwarks, over the first cutter, which was lowered to near the 
iter's edge, drove the muskets through the open port there, and 
verely wounded William Cowell, seaman, who was in the boat 
unding, and slightly wounding Henry Clark, chief boatswain's 
ate A second 8-inch compound solid shot carried 


away, amidships, the keel of the launch, (which was partly low< 
and, entering on the starboard side, struck the steam drum, 
glancing, fell into the fire-room." 

On the 5th of July when the iron-clad Lexington was 
ceeding along the White River, Arkansas, her chief engineer, 
Joseph Huber, was shot dead by guerillas lurking along 

On the Atlantic coast after the remarkable fight of the 
clads in Hampton Roads there were no very important nava 
gagements during the year. The unromantic and wearying wo 
maintaining the blockade along that coast employed the gr 
number of the sea-going vessels and kept them extremely ac 
while in the rivers, bays and sounds the smaller steamers wer 
gaged in a ceaseless border warfare with the armed vessels 
shore batteries of the enemy. This latter employment furnisl 
fine field for adventure and, although on a small scale, gave oj 
tunity for the development of a class of intrepid and self-K 
young officers, of which class Lieutenant-commander C. W. Fl 
and Lieutenant Wm. B. Cushing were brilliant examples. Tv 
three incidents will suffice to indicate the dangerous nature of 
litteral warfare. 

On the 14th of August Lieutenant George B. Balch in th< 
cahontas proceeded up Black River, South Carolina, some tw 
five miles looking for a Confederate steamer said to be in h 
there. Meeting with more resistance than expected from the ei 
along the banks he finally turned back and as the neighborhoo< 
become aroused the Pocahontas had to run the gauntlet for 
twenty miles of riflemen concealed in the thickets on both b 
she replying all the distance with grape and cannister and sma 
fire. By keeping the men behind breastworks of hammocks 
lumber she escaped with only one casualty, that being report* 
Lieutenant Balch as follows: "At 3:40 p. m., whilst under a 
sharp fire of the enemy, Acting Third Assistant Engineer Jol 
Hill was wounded by a Minie ball, and I regret to report tha 
wound is very dangerous; as yet, however, I am rejoiced to 
that his symptoms are all favorable; it is a penetrating wound < 
abdomen, the ball having passed entirely through his bod) 
need not say that he is receiving the most assiduous care o: 


Rhoades, and he has been removed to the open deck under the 
poop, that he may have the benefit of the cooler atmosphere ; and I 
am satisfied that if skill and attention can avail his life will be 

Mr. Hill furnished an example of remarkable recovery, for he 
survived his wound, served faithfully throughout the war and, as a 
first assistant engineer, was honorably mustered out in December, 

September 9th, the Shawsheen had a similar experience, she 
being ambushed off Cross' Landing in the Chowan River, North 
Carolina, and escaped with one casualty, also an assistant engineer; 
this officer, John Wall by name, was shot in the thigh and wrist and 
dangerously wounded, but ultimately recovered. 

The morning of October 3d, Lieutenant Commander Flusser 
with the Commodore Perry, Hwnchback, and Whitehead went up 
the Blackwater River to co-operate with Major General Dix in an 
attack on Franklin, Virginia. When near the town the vessels 
were suddenly attacked by a large force lying in ambush in the 
woods and on high bluffs, and suffered severely, not being able to 
use their ordnance to advantage in reply. After fighting for three 
hours under these conditions and getting no support from the army, 
which did not appear, the steamers returned down the river, being 
obliged to force their way with a heavy head of steam through ob- 
structions made by the enemy felling trees into the narrow stream. 
The affair cost four men killed and fifteen wounded, twelve of the 
casualties being on Flusser's steamer, the Commodore Perry. One 
of the killed was an officer — Master's Mate John Lynch. The 
following instances of gallantry are mentioned in Flusser's report: 

" I desire to mention as worthy of praise for great gallantry, 
Lieutenant William B. Cushing, who ran the field-piece out amid 
a storm of bullets, took a sure and deliberate aim at the rebels, and 
sent a charge of cannister among them, that completely silenced 
their fire at that point. Mr. Lynch assisted Mr. Cushing, and here 
met his death like a brave fellow, as he was. 

"Mr. Richards, third assistant engineer, who had charge of 
the powder division, also assisted with the howitzer, and showed 


great courage. Mr. Anderson, the paymaster, was of great ass 
ance in bringing in the wounded from under the fire. ' ' 

Upon the receipt of this report Acting Rear Admiral Lee, e< 
manding the squadron, directed that Acting Third Assistant Enj 
eer George W. Richards be examined for promotion on accoun 
his conduct in the fight, and he was shortly afterward advance* 
the grade of acting second assistant engineer. 

The fine screw-sloop Adirondack, fresh from the New York n 
yard where she was built, while proceeding to the Gulf of Me: 
struck on a reef near Little Abaco Island the morning of Aug 
23rd, and became a total wreck, the engineer of the watch stat 
that when she struck he saw the jagged points of the reef stick 
up through her bottom into the fire-room. At daylight the cc 
manding officer, Captain Guert Gansevoort, ordered all hands to 
to the island, about five miles distant, and said that he would 
main on board. The boatswain, Mr. William Green, and Sec< 
Assistant Engineer Henry W. Robie elected to stay with him ; 
soon had to defend the ship with hatchets and revolvers againi 
boat load of villainous-looking black wreckers who came off 
board her, but were successfully driven off. The two officers nan 
finally prevailed upon the almost distracted captain to abandon 
ship, her salvage being hopeless, and with him went ashore to j 
the rest of the crew. All hands lost everything they owned ex& 
the clothing they had on at the time of stranding, as the ship fil 
with water immediately and settled down on the reef until her S] 
deck was almost awash. The shipwrecked men remained on Lii 
Abaco about two weeks, when they were taken off by the U. S. 
Canandaigua. The members of the corps who shared in this n 
fortune were Chief Engineer Alexander Henderson, First AssiBti 
Engineer George J. Barry, Second Assistants Louis J. Allen i 
Henry W. Robie, and Third Assistants T. M. Mitchell, J. 
Greene and Thomas Crummey. 

Mr. Robie was a brother of Chief Engineer E. D. Robie 
prominent member of the corps until his recent retirement, t 
from his unfortunate adventure in the Adirondack went to the n 
monitor Passaic, where a more dangerous experience was in st 
for him. The Passaic and the Monitor left Hampton Roads 


afternoon of December 29th, 1862, to join the blockading fleet off 
Charleston, the former being towed by the State of Georgia and the 
latter by the Hhode Island, but both using their own steam as well. 
Captain Percival Drayton commanded the Passaic and Commander 
J. P. Bankhead the Monitor, the senior engineers of the vessels 
respectively being First Assistant Engineer George Bright and Sec- 
ond Assistant Joseph Watters. The evening of December 30 the 
sea became rough, and the Monitor began making heavy weather 
of it, taking in quantities of water through the hawse pipes and 
under the turret, and generally renewing the experience of her first 
voyage from New York. The water gained steadily and soon im- 
paired the fires by rising into the ash pits and swashing against the 
grate bars, until the falling steam pressure showed too plainly that 
the engines and pumps must soon stop. At 10:30 p. m. signals of 
distress were made to the Rhode Island and that vessel undertook 
the extremely dangerous and difficult task of removing iheMonitor's 
people in the heavy sea by means of boats, but before the work was 
completed the Monitor sank. This happened shortly after mid- 
night of the morning of December 31, about twenty miles S. S.-W. 
of Cape Hatteras. With her perished acting ensigns Norman 
Atwater and George Frederickson; third assistant engineers K. W. 
Hands and Samuel A. Lewis, and twelve enlisted men. In Com- 
mander Bankhead's report of the disaster he asserted his convic- 
tion that a serious leak had been sprung by the pounding of the 
sea separating the iron hull from the wooden upper body, and this 
seems very probable. 

In the meantime the Passaic was having a similar experience, 
water gaining in her bilges steadily on account of lack of strainers 
on the suction pipes of the pumps which resulted in the pump valves 
soon choking with dirt and ashes. This absence of a very essential 
fitting was caused by the vessel having been hurried away from the 
contractors' works by the naval authorities before the engine-room 
details were completed. About midnight the last pump gave out 
and as the water threatened to reach the fires and extinguish them, 
the fire-room was abandoned and the crew assembled on top of the 
turret. The chief engineer was confined to his room by illness 
before the vessel left Hampton Roads, leaving Mr. Robie in charge, 
and he now proved himself equal to the emergency. With a second 


class fireman named Kiehards, who volunteered to stay below i 
him, he put on the bilge injection and for two or three hours si 
over it, almost submerged in water, keeping the mouth of the ] 
clear and opening or closing the valves as required, while the 
man attended to the fires. Captain Drayton waded into the 
room during this time and gave the not very cheering informa 
that the Monitor had just gone down. Eventually the pump gai 
on the water and confidence was restored. The story of Mr. Kol 
heroism is more fully set forth in the following affidavit mad< 
the surgeon of the vessel: 

"Newark, N. J., May 1st., 1890. 

''To whom in the interest of patriotism and justice it may ( 
cern, be it known that I, Edgar Holden, formerly Surgeon of 
monitor Passaic, actuated by a desire to see atonement made 1 
great government for the unmerited neglect of a brave f ellow-offi 
to whose heroism and fortitude were due the safety of the mon 
J?assaie, and through this the consummation of the plan for pla< 
jfhe monitor ironclads in southern waters during the late war. 
certify to the following facts; said facts being not matters of men 
but drawn from notes made at the time in my private journal 
in large part published in the year 1863 in Harpers Monthly 1 
azine, October, 1863. 

"To- wit: That when in that awful night in which the orig 
Monitor was lost, officers and men had toiled for hours at the se 
ingly hopeless task of throwing overboard shot and shell and bai 
the sinking ironclad with buckets passed from hand to hand, 
when from exhaustion and despair we fell at times to rise a 
to the futile task, and when from the engine-room c 
the report that one after another the pumps had given out, and 
the water was knee deep in the fire-room, swashing against the 
bars with every lurch of the ship, and when finally the report c 
'the last pump has failed' and we threw down our buckets to 
that Assistant Engineer H.W.Kobie stood alone at his post and 
ceeded in starting the pumps known as the bilge injections, 
frequently submerged to the neck in water, worked the valves 
his hands, his head held by myself or his fireman, while the 
seemed puerile to the despairing men on deck. That he stood 


hours under the platform around the engines to prevent the entrance 
of chips and floating debris from entering and clogging the valves 
which were without the usual strainers. That these pumps were the 
only ones that could be so cleared, the others having suction pipes 
passing in some way that I have forgotten through an iron bulkhead 
and making it impossible to free them. That Mr. Kobie thus stood 
at his post after all but one fireman had left the engine rooms. That 
further it was my conviction, as well as that of all who knew at the 
time of his heroism, that to his fidelity alone was due the safety of 
the Passaic. 

"And I would further certify that only of late have I been 
made aware that this unsurpassed devotion to duty has never been 
acknowledged by the Navy Department or the Government, and 
that the facts were not made known at the time, probably through a 
patriotic desire to conceal the bad sea-going qualities of the monitors, 
and were certainly omitted from my published journal solely on this 

' ' I would further state that this gallant officer is, as I am cred- 
ibly informed, ill and in straitened circumstances, and that any ac- 
tion tending to show a just appreciation of his invaluable services 
should be taken promptly. 


"Edgae Holden, M. D., Ph. D. 
"Medical Director Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Co., Fellow 
and Vice President American Laryngological Society, 
Member American Medical Association, etc., etc.; for- 
merly Assistant Surgeon U. S. N." 

" Personally appeared before me this 2d day of May, 1890, 
Dr. Edgar Holden, of the city of Newark and county of Essex, 
known to me to be a physician and surgeon in good standing, for 
merly an officer of the United States Navy, who certifies that the 
above statements are just and true. 

"F. K. Howell, Notary Public, N. J." 

Heroism and devotion to duty of the order described have won 
promotion and reward in innumerable instances where the degree 
was less than in this case, but there is no record of Mr. Robie hav- 


ing received either for his signal services. One considerable rec 
nition which he did receive, and which he said well repaid him 
his experience, occurred shortly before the battle in Mobile B 
when Captain Drayton introduced him to Admiral Farragut v< 
the remark, ' ' Mr. Eobie saved the Passaic the night the Mom 
was lost." 


11 When the temple at Jerusalem was completed, King Solomon gave a feast to 
the artificers employed in its construction. On unveiling the throne it was found that 
a blacksmith had usurped the seat of honor on the right of the king's place, not yet 
awarded. Whereupon the people clamored and the guard rushed to cut him down. 
• Let him speak ! ' commanded Solomon. ' Thou hast, O King, invited all craftsmen 
but me, yet how could these builders have raised the temple without the tools I fash- 
ioned ? ' 'True,' decreed Solomon, ' the seat is his of right. All honor to the iron- 
worker.' " — Jewish Legend. 

1862 — The Civil War, Continued— Increase of the Navy — Steamers Purchased 
Mississippi Flotilla Transferred to the Navy Department — Steam Ves- 
sels of War Placed Under Construction — The Passaic Class of Monitors 
— The Dictator and Pobitan — The Miantonomoh Class — Other Moni- 
tors — The Keokuk — The Dunderberq — Legislation Regarding the Navy 
— RetiredXist Established — Creation of the Bureau of Steam Engineer- 
ing — Pensions. 

DUEING- 1862 the naval force both in ships and men was largly 
increased. About fifty steamers from the merchant service were 
bought during the year and converted into armed vessels, and a sim- 
ilar number of vessels was added to the naval establishment by the 
transfer of the Mississippi flotilla in July from the army and by the 
transfer of some revenue cutters from the Treasury Department. Sev- 
eral vessels captured from the enemy in action, or while attemptiug 
to run the blockade, were found suitable for use as war steamers, 
prominent among these being the powerful iron-clad ram Tennessee 
captured at New Orleans while still unfinished, and the steamer East- 
port taken by Lieutenant Phelps in the Tennessee River. 

This year witnessed a remarkable awakening of public interest 
in naval ship construction; an interest that took the form of practic- 
ally dictating to the Navy Department the types of war ships the 
country needed, and was so powerful that it entirely overcame 
and consigned to the background the practices and prejudices which 
had long been fundamental in the naval service relative to the same 
subject. As a result all the old theories based upon the supposed 
unreliability of steam, the alleged necessity for sail-power on war- 


vessels, and the doubted utility of iron as a material for ship cons 
tion, were cast aside, and with the prestige resulting from the 
formance of the Monitor and the failure of the old type of shi 
Hampton Roads the engineer was allowed free scope to develo; 
ideas and build ships embodying them. It was, in fact, one of t 
occasions which recur from time to time when society is force 
unusual circumstances to admit its dependence upon the iron-woi 
and in its distress to fall before him humbly begging for sui 
The result of all this was that the greater part of the constru 
activity of the year was devoted to the building of engineers' 
ships, — mastless vessels dependent entirely upon steam and m 
with iron. 

If public opinion sustained and demanded this revolutic 
naval architecture, the same cannot be said of naval opii 
With the exception of engineers, who saw in the change a devi 
ment of their own specialty, the general sentiment of the nav 
exhibited by a multitude of letters, reports and opinions, all i 
of public knowledge through the medium of Navy Depart] 
and Congressional publications, appears to have been one of 
trust, if not positive opposition to the new development. Tht 
was that the engineer corps, with a few prominent exceptioj 
other branches of the service, had to bear the brunt of inces 
attacks upon the probable utility of the new class of vessel 
strife that was well maintained against great odds at first 
finally terminated in an historical controversy between a pj 
inent representative of each naval faction, from which controv 
the engineer and the principles championed by him emerged 
nally victorious. 

It is unnecessary to introduce any of the opinions of th< 
school naval officers, breathing hostility to the engineers' si 
for a proper respect for the intelligence and patriotism of 
officers of our navy as a class is sufficient warrant that sue 
those opinions as have been preserved are not indicative of th« 
lief of the whole service. That belief, however, while not acti 
hostile, was far from being favorable, and cannot be more truth: 
presented than by quoting from an opinion respecting iron-clads 
mitted to the Navy Department in February, 1864,byRear Admir 
M. Goldsborough, an officer of more than fifty years service, of g 


prominence and recognized professional ability, and as progressive 
and liberal-minded a representative of this class as could well be 

' ' Their absolute worth, however, in these particulars, (offensive 
and defensive properties), I cannot regard as entitled to the extrav- 
agant merit claimed for it, induced, I apprehend, in a great measure 
by conclusions drawn from the encounters of the first Monitor and 
Weehawken with the Merrimack and Atlanta, without a sufficient 
knowledge of the facts attending them, and without any (or more 
than an unwilling) reference to the case s of opposite results, as, for 
instance, the Ogeechee,and the repeated displays before Charleston. 
That the charm of novelty in construction, or quaintness in appear- 
ance, had anything to do with the matter, I will not undertake to 
assert, although I may, perhaps, be allowed to indulge suspicion as 
to probable effect. Popular opinion is not always right on such sub- 
jects, nor do I know that it is apt to be when it runs counter to pop- 
ular naval opinion. At any rate, I do know that the latter is not 
likely to be very wrong in relation to professional matters of the 

Before the original Monitor was launched, Secretary Welles 
had become convinced of the extraordinary merits of that type of 
fighting ship, and in his annual report, in December, 1861, he rec- 
ommended the immediate construction of twenty iron-clad steamers. 
The House of Kepiesentatives acted quickly on this recommendation 
and passed a bill authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to cause to 
be constructed not exceeding twenty-one iron-clad steam gunboats. 
The Senate, more conservative, delayed action on the bill until Feb- 
ruary, when the Secretary of the Navy, forseeing that the country 
would suffer from longer inaction, addressed the chairman of the 
Senate naval committee on the subject, with the result that the bill 
was soon passed . In its final form it authorized the Navy Depart- 
ment to expend $10,000,000 for armored vessels, and this appro- 
priation was greatly augmented by subsequent legislation. 

Under date of March 31, the Department entered into contract 
with John Ericsson for the construction, hull and machinery com- 
plete, of six single-turreted monitors, slightly larger than his first 
vessel and possessing improvements that experience had shown to 


be desirable. Chief among the changes was the locating of the 
pilot house on top of the turret, and the installation of a permanent 
smoke-pipe. Chief Engineer Alban C. Stimers was detailed as gen- 
eral superintendent of the building of these vessels. Encouraged by 
his happy selection of the name of the Monitor, Ericsson proceeded 
to name these six, Impenetrable, Penetrator, Paradox, Qawvtlet, Palla- 
dium, and Agitator, but the Department very properly disapproved 
of these polysyllables and gave the vessels good American names— 
Passaic, Montauk, Catskill, Patapsco, Lehigh, and Sangamon, — under 
which they did the state good service and with which four of them 
are still on the navy list, and a fifth, the Sangamon with her name 
changed to Jason, also remains with us. The Patapsco was 
lost in January, 1865. Besides these six, there were four others of 
the Passaic class, built by other contractors from Ericsson's general 
designs, these being the Nantucket, built by the Atlantic Works, Bos- 
ton; the Nahant, by Harrison Loring, Boston; the Weehawken, byZ. 
and F. Secor, New York, and the Camanche. The contract for this 
last vessel was given to Donahue, Ryan & Secor of San Francisco, 
-Cal. and the actual work of building the ship was done at the ship 
yard of the Secor brothers in Jersey City: when the different parts 
were all completed a sailing ship, the Aquila,wa,s freighted with them 
and proceeded to San Francisco by way of Cape Horn, having the 
misfortune to sink at the dock soon after arriving at her destination. 
After these delays, the Camanche did not appear as a completed 
monitor until 1865. There is perhaps no more eloquent tribute to 
the genius of John Ericsson than the fact that of the thirteen single 
turreted monitors that remain in our navy as the survivors of the 
many vessels of that type built during the war, eight are members 
of the original ten of the Passaic class. 

On the 28th of July a contract was made with Ericsson for two large 
and high-powered monitors, which he named Puritan and Protector, 
the first name being accepted by the Department and the second 
changed to Dictator. The following table exhibits the main features 
of the Ericsson monitors of 1862 compared with the original Monitor, 
the data given being with reference to the vessels as actually built 
and not according to their dimensions as altered by subsequent re- 
building or repairs. The table is from Church's Life of John 

i-T ° 

a «a 

3 g 

o ft 



ft * 
2 ™ 

T3 ' rt 




33 ffl 






a -w 



5 **-" 

a> 5 










•H o 

O ^ 








M a) 




0) of 


^-< CD 


.- k 


$ o 


§ -? 



o o 

■§. a 


em H 
5 c3 


ft. A 

S -c 



"=3 £P 

'ft fe 

H M 









Contract price, each 

Extreme length, feet 

Extreme breadth, feet 

Depth of hold, feet 

Draft of water, feet 

Diam. of turret, inside, feet 

Thickness of armor, inches 

Diameter of propellers, feet 

Diam. steam cylinders, inches 

Length of stroke, inches 

Side armor, inches 

Weight of guns, pounds 

Coal capacity, tons 

Displacement, tons 


Midship section, square feet... 






Passaic & 
class 6. 

Dictator and 












312 and 340 
21 J* 
84,000 and 
300 and 1,000 
4,438 and 
3,033 and 

The story of the troubles and delays experienced in the building 
of the two large monitors is too long to go into. Ericsson was 
much hampered and annoyed by the numerous changes in his de- 
signs forced upon him by the Department acting on the advice of 
naval officers with and without experience in monitors. One con- 
siderable modification in the Dictator was in dispensing with the 
forward overhang of the upper hull, which Ericsson regarded as an 
essential as it afforded a perfect protection to the anchors when under 
fire. Officers in command of the smaller monitors while the Dicta- 
tor was building generally condemned that feature and believed it 
had been the cause of the loss of the Monitor, their opinions ultim- 
ately leading to the modification referred to. "When the Dictator 
went into service at the end of 1864 her commander, Captain John 
Kodgers, complained of the absence of the forward overhang, which 
complaint angered Ericsson on account of the source of the influence 
that had forced him to make the change. Writing to the Secretary 
of the JSTavy regarding the criticisms to which the monitors were 
subjected by the commander of one of them, he said: "I 
trust that neither he nor the officers of the turret vessels, 
all of whom are admitted to be as skilful in their profession as 
they are brave, will take offense at my remarks. I have only the 
single object in view — the triumph of the service which their skill 


and valor has raised so high in the public estimation. 1 beg, ear- 
nestly, however, to call their attention to the fact that they have 
entered on a new era, and that they are handling not ships, but 
floating machines, and that, however eminent their seamanship, 
they cannot afford to disregard the advice of the engineer." 

With all his engineering ability, Ericsson made some mistakes 
himself right in the line of his own profession, and as he was so 
stubborn by nature and so confident of his own powers his errors 
were seldom corrected until too late, for he would take advice of no 
man. Chief Engineer E. D. Eobie, U. S. Navy, was the naval 
superintendent of the construction of the Dictator, and, without 
claiming to be a genius or a remarkable inventor, he was a better 
marine engineer than Ericsson, for he had the invaluable knowledge 
gained by long experience with engines at sea which Ericsson 
lacked, and without which no engineer, no matter how accom- 
plished, can intelligently design marine engines. Several faults in 
design were pointed out by Mr. Kobie, who knew to a certainty 
that they would result in trouble at sea, but Ericsson would listen 
to nothing, his favorite reply to these suggestions, which was both 
egotistical and incorrect, being that he had built successful engines 
before Eobie was born. 

One fault alone which Ericsson scorned to recognize resulted 
in defeating the hopes of the Department regarding the first opera- 
tions of the Dictator. Her main shaft was nineteen inches in dia- 
meter, an enormous size even for this day, and the main bearings 
as designed were disproportionately short for the size of the shaft 
they were to support. This was strenuously objected to by Robie, 
but without avail, and the result was that when the Dictator started 
to join the fleet for the first assault on Fort Fisher, her first employ 
ment, the bearings wore down three-eighths of an inch in going 
twenty miles and the shaft became so loose as to endanger the ship. 
Upon Chief Engineer Robie's report, she was turned back to port, 
and for many weeks she had to lie idle under Robie's charge while 
he had longer brasses made and brackets fitted to support them. 
This was a most lamentable failure when the Department was ex- 
pecting bo much of the ship, and Ericsson afterward admitted in 
conversation with Mr. Robie that for once he had made a mistake 
in not listening to the opinions of another engineer. 




































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Against Ericsson's wishes the Puritan was provided with twin 
screws, and it was also directed that she be fitted with two turrets ; 
to this latter modification of his plan Ericsson vehemently objected, 
and finally arranged a compromise of one hnge turret to mount two 
twenty-inch guns, but these changes and counter changes amounted 
to nothing, for the end of the war found the Puritan still unfinished. 
The Yvrginius excitement in 1874 induced the Navy Department 
to take steps towards her completion, but she cannot be said to be 
finished yet, for now (1896) the work of converting her into a coast 
defense battle-ship is still going forward. Very little of Ericsson's 
ship remains in the new Puritan. The Dictator was put in service 
and sent to Key West at the time of the Ywgvnius affair and proved 
to be an excellent sea boat, but very expensive to operate. In 1883 
she was sold to A. Purves & Son of Philadelphia for $40,250, the 
government having expended up to that time about $260,000 for 
her preservation and repair, in addition to her original cost. 

Besides the twelve Ericsson monitors already referred to, 
twenty-eight other armored vessels, the majority of which were of the 
monitor type, were placed under construction during the year. Four 
of these were large double-turreted vessels designed to carry four 
XT-inch guns each and were undertaken by the government at the 
navy yards as follows: Miantonom&h at Hew York; Toncwanda 
(afterward Amphitrite) at Philadelphia; Monadnock at Boston, and 
Agamenticus (Terror) at Battery, Maine. Machinery for these vessels 
was contracted for with various builders in New York and Philadel- 
phia, that for the first two named being designed by Engineer-in- 
Chief Isherwood and that for the other two by John Ericsson. The 
turrets, side armor, deck plating, stringers, etc. were obtained by 
contract with different iron manufacturers. The Onondaga^ also 
two-turreted, was contracted for, hull and machinery complete, with 
George Quintard of New York and was built for him by T. F. Kow- 
land at the Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint. Four other two- 
turreted monitors were placed under construction in the Mississippi 
Valley, the contracts for them, dated May 27th, being with the 
following builders: Thomas G. Gaylord, Cincinnati, Ohio, for the 
Chickasaw, G. B. Allen & Co., St. Louis, for the Kickapoo; James 
B. Edes, St. Louis, for the Milwaukee and Winnebago. These west- 
ern craft were modifications of Ericsson's monitor, their decks in- 


stead of being flat were so much crowned that they were known as 
" turtle-backs, " and the guns were mounted in turrets built from 
Edes' designs on the disappearing principle. 

In September, nine single-turret monitors, somewhat larger than 
the Passaic class were contracted for as follows: With Harrison 
Loring, Boston, for the Oanonicus; Swift, Evans & Co., Cincinnati, 
for the Catawba and Oneota; Z. & F. Secor, New York, for the 
Mahopac, Manhattan and Tecumseh; Albert G. Mann, Pittsburgh, 
for the Manayunk; Harlan & Hollingsworth, Wilmington, Delaware, 
for the Samgus, and MileB Greenwood, Cincinnati, for the Tippecanoe. 
Two very small single-turret vessels, the Marietta and Sandusky, were 
contracted for May 16th with Hartupee & Co., Pittsburgh, and 
during the same month contracts were signed with James B. Edes, 
St. Louis, for the Neosho and Osage, having one turret and recessed 
stern wheels, and with George C. Bestor, Peoria, 111. , for a similar 
vessel, the Ozark. Joseph Brown of St. Louis by contracts signed 
May 30th, built three small iron-plated casemate vessels named 
Chilicothe, Tuscumbia and Indianola. These vessels had side wheels 
far aft working independently to facilitate turning in close quarters, 
and had also twin screw propellers. 

One or two novel plans for armored war-vessels were accepted 
during the year as the aftermath of the crop of designs submitted to 
the iron-clad board of 1861. One remarkable vessel originating in 
this manner was the Keokuk, built the terms of the con- 
tract made with Charles W. Whitney of New York on the 25th of 
March. This contract called for an iron-plated, shot-proof steam 
battery, 159 feet long, 36 feet beam, 13 feet 6 inches depth of hold, 
to carry two Xl-inch guns mounted in towers. Low-pressure con- 
densing engines capable of driving the vessel ten knots per hour for 
twelve consecutive hours were specified. The contract price was 
$220,000. The peculiar feature of the Keokuk was in the disposi- 
tion of armor, the sides being built of alternate horizontal strata of 
wooden timbers and iron bars, each layer being about five inches 
wide. Like the Galena, this conception came to grief when sub- 
jected to the fire of the enemy, and in worse degree; for she sank 
from the effects of the puncturing she received, as will be related in 
a subsequent chapter regarding naval operations off Charleston. 

Another iron-clad of quite different type was the Dunderberg, 

to => 

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contracted for with W. H. Webb of New York city, July 3rd, 1862. 
This vessel, described as an "ocean-going iron-clad frigate ram," 
was a remarkable step in advance of the war-ship construction of the 
time, but was not put to the test of battle as her great size and huge 
pieces of iron work to be made so delayed her building that she was 
not launched until July 22, 1865. The tendency in armored ship 
construction after the affair of the Monitor and Merrimao was to 
accept Ericsson's circular turret as the proper protection for guns, 
and this plan, modified and improved by changing conditions and 
better appliances for perfecting mechanical work, still remains and 
may be seen in one form or another in almost every armored vessel 
of the present day. The Dwnderberg, however, departed most 
radically from the favorite practice of her year, and instead of the 
features of the Monitor her construction presented an almost faithful 
reproduction, in a greatly improved form, of the general character- 
istics of the Merrvmac. That is, she consisted essentially of a low 
hull surmounted with a sloping-sided armored casemate protecting a 
very heavy battery. Great engine power, calculated to give a sea 
speed of fifteen knots an hour, and an enormous ram fifty feet long 
were important factors in her war-like make up. The hull, of un- 
usually heavy timbers, was built in Mr. Webb's shipyard, foot of 
Sixth Street, East River, and the machinery was built by John Roach 
& Son at the Etna Iron Works near by. Chief Engineer Wm. W. 
W. Wood, IT. S. Navy, was the general Superintendent of construc- 
tion and Second Assistant Engineer Wilson K. Purse was the resident 
inspector at the Etna Iron Works. The contract price for the vessel 
complete was $1,250,000. 

The following table exhibits the general dimensions of the ship 
and machinery, and shows her to have been an unusually huge craft 
f©r her day. 

Extreme length 380 feet 4 inches. 

Extreme beam 72 " 10 " 

Depth of main hold 22 " 7 " 

Height of casemate 7 " 9 " 

Length of ram 50 " 

Draft when fully equipped for sea 21 " 

Displacement 7,000 ton§. 

Tonnage 5,090 " 

Weight of iron armor , , J.,000 '» 

'■■ .. 


Diameter o£ steam cylinders (two) 100 inches. 

Stroke of pistons 45 " 

Boilers — Six main and two auxiliary. 

Depth of boilers 13 feet. 

Height of boilers _ 17 feet 6 inches. 

Front width of boilers, each 21 " 5 " 

Weight of boilers 450 tons. 

Total heating surface 30,000 square feet 

Grate surface 1,200 " " 

Cooling surface in condensers 12,000 " " 

Diameter of screw propeller 21 feet. 

Pitch of propeller 27 to 30 " 

Weight of propeller 34,580 pounds. 

Capacity of coal bunkers 1,000 tons. 

Horse-power of main engines 5,000 

This "Thundering Mountain" of the navy, as her size and 
armament as well as the translation of her name caused her to be 
called, embraced a number of features in construction now regarded 
as essential but which in 1862-3 were thought unimportant or were 
almost unheard of. She had a double bottom, collision 
bulkheads, and a system of transverse longitudinal and 
water-tight bulkheads extending up to the spar deck. The 
engine and boiler spaces were entirely enclosed with water- 
tight bulkheads. Her air and circulating pumps were 
independent of the main engines and she had also a pair of 
independent wrecking pumps. The smoke-pipe, thirteen feet in 
diameter, had armor gratings fitted inside it, as is now universally 
practiced, to prevent injury to the boilers by grenades or heavy 
debris. The engines were horizontal back-acting in arrangement, 
designed to run at an ordinary speed of sixty revolutions per minute, 
with intention to work up to eighty revolutions for full power. The 
main shaft was 118 feet long and 18 inches in diameter, and was sup- 
ported by bearings 40 inches long cored for water circulation The 
air and circulating pumps each had two steam cylinders 36"x36", 
which in themselves were engines nearly as large as the propelling 
engines of the Ckmandwigua class of sloops of war. 

Not being completed until after the Civil War was over, the 
naval authorities had no desire to receive this splendid specimen of 
war- ship into the service, the policy then being to get rid of as 
many vessels as possible instead of adding to the number. At Mr. 



Webb's request the vessel was released to him under the terms of 
a special act of Congress approved March 2, 1867, he refunding to 
the government the sum of $1,092,887.73, which had been paid to 
him on account. He immediately sold her to the French govern- 
ment, and under the name of Bochambeau she was for many years 
regarded as one of the most formidable vessels in the navy of that 
country. The effect of the presence in the French navy of the Dwn- 
d&rberg is still visible in the exaggerated ram bows and home-sloping 
top sides so generally designed by French naval architects. Mr. 
Edward Marsland, who had been a first assistant engineer in the 
navy during the war, went across the Atlantic in the Ihmderberg as 
her chief engineer and found the sea-behaviour of both ship and 
machinery admirable. The same day that Congress authorized the 
release of the Dwiderberg to Mr. Webb another private act was 
passed releasing the Onondaga to Mr. Quintard, who refunded the 
money he had been paid and received the vessel, although she had 

Longitudinal section of the Dunderberg, showing backing of ram, arrangement 
of machinery, disposition of armor, etc. 

been completed and in active service the last eighteen months of the 
war. She also was sold to the French and still appears on the 
navy list of that country as an armored coast-defense turret 

From the lesson of Hampton Koads the Navy Department at- 
tempted one modification of a war vessel that was not especially 
successful. In 1862 work was begun on the frigate Roanoke of cut- 
ting her down as the Merrimac had been, and on the low deck re- 
sulting three Ericsson turrets were fitted by the Novelty Iron Works, 
New York. Although employed about a year in the North Atlantic 
squadron, the modified Roanoke was not found satisfactory. The 






































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great weight of the three turrets made her rolling dangerous and the 
hull was not found to be strong enough to properly carry them, the 
thrust of the turret spindles on the keel when the turrets were being 
keyed up for action always threatening to force out the bottom. 

The twelve double-ended gunboats begun in 1861 proved so 
useful that in the autumn of 1862 contracts were made for twenty- 
seven others, considerably larger than the first lot. From the name 
of one of these that became especially famous they came to be known 
as the Sassacus class, their names being as follows: Agawam, Ascut- 
ney, Chenango, Chicopee, Eirtaw, Iosco, Lenapee, Mackinaw, Massa- 
soit, Mattabessett, Mendota, Metacomet, Mingoe, Osceola, Otsego, Paw- 
tuxet, Peoria, Pontiac, Pontoosuc, Sassacus, Shamrock, Tacony, 
Tallahoma, Tallapoosa, Wateree, Winooski, and Wyalusing. All 
were built of wood with the exception of the Wateree, which was of 
iron. Thej were all rated as of 974 tons burden. One other wooden 
vessel of this class — the Algonquin — was delayed on account of con- 
troversy as to the machinery to be fitted in her and was not put 
under construction until March, 1863. A few of the hulls were built 
at navy yards, but the majority of them and the machinery for all 
were built by contract, the engineer-in- chief furnishing the machin- 
ery designs except for the Algonquin. The Sassacus was built at the 
navy yard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, by Naval Constructor 
Jsaiah Hanscom, and her machinery by the Atlantic Works, Boston. 

Near the close of the year a class of small screw sloops, about 100 
tons larger than the ninety-day gunboats, was begun at navy yards 
and contracts let for their machinery. These were the Kansas, 
Mawmee, Nipsia, Nyack, Pequot, Saco, Shaumut, and Yantic. With 
the exception of the Kansas all were under construction by the 1st 
of January, 1863. 

Important changes in naval organization and administration 
were brought about by Congressional action during the early part of 
of the Civil War. During the special session of the 37th Congress 
in the summer of 1861, to go a little back of the year with which 
this chapter is dealing, an act, approved August 3, 1861, created a 
naval retired list by providing that any officer of the navy who had 
been forty years in the service of the United States might be retired 
upon his own application; the same act provided that officers of the 
navy found incapacitated for active service by reason of wounds or 

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other disability incurred in the line of duty should be placed on the 
retired list, and the officer next in rank promoted to the place of the 
retired officer according to the established rules of the service. 
Early in the first regular session of the same Congress, an act, ap- 
proved December 21, 1861, made the retirement of naval officers 
compulsory after forty-five years' service, or upon arriving at the 
age of sixty-two. A number of old officers of the line and medical 
corps were immediately retired in accordance with this legislation, 
and it was due only to the presence on the active list of these 
superannuated officers, unable to perform their duties in time of war, 
and at the same time deserving of all consideration for past services, 
that the navy received the inestimable, though deserved, gift of the 
retired list. 

An act to reorganize the Navy Department was approved July 
5th, 1862, which created the Bureau of Steam Engineering as a sep- 
arate executive branch of the department' and provided that the chief 
of that bureau should be a skillful engineer selected from the list of 
chief engineers of the navy. The same act created the present bureaus 
of Navigation, Equipment, and Construction, the two last named 
and the bureau of steam engineering being obtained by dividing up 
the old bureau of Construction, Equipment and Eepair, the business 
of which under the demands of war having grown to the extent of 
making its division a business necessity. 

The present schedule of pensions for disability incurred in the 
naval service was established by an act of Congress approved July 
16th, 1862. Other acts approved the same day directed the trans- 
fer of the western gunboat fleet built by the "War Department to the 
Navy Department, and reorgnized the grades of line officers of the 
navy; the last act referred to added the grades of commodore and 
rear admiral to the line establishment and created within it the ad- 
ditional grades of lieutenant- commander and ensign. A new pay 
table was also established. 


" When sorrows come, they come not single spies, 
But in battalions." 

— Hamlet; Act IV. sc. 5. 

186a— The Civil War Continued— Disasters at Galveston— Loss of the Columbia— 
Raid of Rebel Rams off Charleston— Loss of the Isaac Smith*— The Florida, 
and Her Pursuit by the Sonoma — Investment of Washington, North Carolina 
— Assembling oi Ironclads off Charleston— Remarkable Breakdown and Repairs 
to the Machinery of the Weehawken — Attack on Fort McAllister— First Attack 
on Fort Sumter — Destruction of the Keokuk — The AtlantarWeehawken Duel 
—Protracted Investment of the Charleston Forts by the Monitors— Sinking of 
the Weehawken. 

NAVAL operations during the year 1863 were conducted on a 
greater scale than before and were in the main successful, 
the enemy's coasts being more rigorously invested and the lines of 
the blockade made more and more impassable. A number of mis- 
fortunes to vessels engaged in more or less important undertak- 
ings which occurred with considerable regularity from month to 
month served, however, in connection with the first unfortunate 
demonstration of the ironclads at Charleston, to distract public 
attention from the real service being done by the navy and to 
give the general impression that the operations of that arm for 
the year were largely unsuccessful. 

The series of disasters to the navy began the first day of the 
new year with an extremely humiliating affair at Galveston, Texas. 
That place was in partial possession of the Union forces and was 
occupied by 260 men of the 42d regiment, Massachusetts volun- 
teer infantry, camped on a wharf, a blockade of the approaches to 
the harbor being maintained to seaward by the steamers Westfidd, 
Clifton, Harriet Lome, Owasco, and Sachem, and the schooner 
Coryjpheus. About 3 a. m. the morning of January first a large 
force of Confederates appeared in the town and made an attack 
upon the soldiers on the wharf, the latter being supported by 
the fire from some of the vessels lying nearest to them. At dawn 
two large river steamers crowded with troops and well protected by 


barricades of cotton bales attacked the Harriet Zcme, or rather 
were attacked by her, she being under way at the time and moving 
up into range of the fight going on ashore, and effected her capture 
by boarding in overwhelming numbers. Her captain, Commander 
J. M. Wainwright, and Lieutenant Commander Edward Lee, were 
both killed, as were also three enlisted men, and fifteen people were 
wounded, the survivors of the ship's company, amounting to about 
one hundred, being made prisoners of war. The officers of the en- 
gineer corps who fell into the hands of the enemy on this occasion 
were M. H. Plunkett, second assistant engineer; C. H. Stone, sec- 
ond assistant engineer; and John E. Cooper, K. N. Ellis and 
A. T. E. Mullen, third assistant engineers. 

An interesting incident illustrative of considerate forethought 
under trying conditions is related of Assistant Engineer Mullen on 
this occasion. After Commander Wainwright had been killed and 
the loss of the ship appeared inevitable, Mr. Mullen threw away his 
own sword and put on that of the captain with the hope of preserving 
it for Wainwright's relatives; a most generous undertaking which is 
said to have been successful, as it was a custom on both sides to re- 
turn side-arms to captured officers after their surrender was com- 

The gunboat Owasco went to the relief of the Harriet Lame 
but was driven off by an incessant musketry fire to which she could 
make scarcely any reply, the narrowness of the channel preventing 
her from getting into a position to use her guns. She had fifteen 
men killed and wounded. Her experience deterred the Clifton from 
making the same attempt and that vessel's fire was accordingly 
directed against the shore batteries. The Westfield, lying a consider- 
able distance out, had got underway and gone hard and fast aground 
early in the morning when the first movement of the enemy's steam- 
ers had been observed. About 7:30 a. m. a Confederate officer 
bearing a flag of truce boarded the Clifton and informed her com- 
mander that the Massachusetts troops and the Harriet Lane had sur- 
rendered and that the steamers, three more of which had appeared, 
were about to move upon and overwhelm the Federal vessels in 
detail. As an alternative he proposed the surrender of all the Federal 
vessels but one, which would be allowed to leave the harbor with tbe 
crews of all. 


Lieutenant Commander Law of the Clifton did not favor this 
proposal, but agreed to carry it to Commander Kenshaw of the West- 
field, the senior officer present, it being promised that the flags of 
truce should fly for three hours to give him time to go and return. 
Commander Kenshaw of course refused to accept the terms and or- 
dered Law back to his ship with instructions to get the vessels under 
way and take them out of the harbor at all hazards, saying also 
that as the Westfield could not be floated he would blow her up and 
escape with her crew in the army transport Saxon lying near him. 
Finding upon his return to the Clifton, that the enemy had made 
many changes to their advantage in the position of their steamers 
and batteries, Law. felt under no obligation to observe the truce and 
immediately got under way with all the vessels and went out of the 
harbor under a heavy fixe, abandoning the blockade for the time 
being by going to New Orleans. Two barks laden with coal for the 
steamers were left behind and fell into the enemy's possession with 
the Harriet Lane. 

Through some terrible blunder in firing the Westfield her maga- 
zine blew up before the people were out of her with the result that 
fourteen persons were killed and sixteen wounded, among the killed 
being commander William B. Kenshaw; Lieutenant C. W. Zimmer- 
man, and Acting Second Assistant Engineer "William K. Greene, the 
senior engineer of the ship. Mr. Greene had acquired an excellent 
reputation for professional and personal worth and his untimely 
taking off was a source of much regret in the corps. In July of the 
previous year when the Westfield was employed in the operations 
about Vicksburg, Commander Kenshaw had reported to the Depart- 
ment in the following highly favorable terms regarding him: "The 
engineer in charge, Mr. William K. Greene, with his assistants, 
Messrs. George S. Baker and Charles Smith, have been untiring in 
their exertions to keep the engine in repair, and have exercised so 
much judgment and care that since leaving the United States there 
has never been a day that the machinery has not been in perfect 
working order." 

The Confederates recovered the large main shaft of the West- 
field from the wreck and manufactured from it a 60-pounder rifled 
gun. This in due course of time found its way to the Annapolis 
Naval Academy and has rested in the grass of the gun-park there 
for many years as a trophy of war. 

I < 


Immediately after the arrival of the Clifton at New Orleans 
with the news of the disaster at Galveston, Admiral Farragut sent 
Commodore Bell with the Brooklyn and six gunboats to re-estab- 
lish the blockade off that port. The afternoon of January 11th a 
strange sail was seen off Galveston and the iron steamer Hatteras, 
Lieutenant Commander H. C. Blake, was sent in pursuit. After 
running from the Hatteras until dark, the stranger ceased steaming 
and allowed her pursuer to approach close alongside, replying to 
the hail that she was " Her Britannic Majesty's ship Fia^ra. " The 
Hatteras lowered a boat to board her, when she suddenly fired a 
broadside at point blank range, accompanying it with the announce- 
ment that she was the Confederate steamer Alabama. The Hat- 
teras returned the fire at once and for several minutes a sharp fight 
ensued, in which the Federal vessel was speedily disabled. She 
was a commercial steamer originally named St. Mary, purchased 
in Philadelphia in 1861 for $110,000, and was wholly unfit for a 
contest with a regularly built vessel of war. Her overhead walking 
beam was shot away immediately and another shot struck and de- 
stroyed the main engine cylinder, either of which blows was suffi- 
cient to deprive the ship of her motive power and prevented her 
commander from carrying out his intention of closing with the Ala- 
bama and boarding her. Shells striking the Hatteras near the water 
line tore off whole sheets of iron and caused her to fill as rapidly as 
a perforated tin pan. In this fatal predicament she surrendered 
and her crew was taken off by the victors, who had barely time to 
save them before the Hatteras sank. The boat's crew that had 
been called away to board the stranger escaped and carried the news 
of the disaster to Galveston. 

In this engagement the Hatteras had two men, both firemen, 
killed and five wounded. The prisoners were taken to Kingston 
Jamaica, all except the officers being kept in irons on the voyage of 
nine days to that place. At Kingston they were put on the beach 
jn a most pitiable condition without money or adequate clothing, 
having lost everything they owned in the Hatteras. In spite of 
their unfortunate condition the treatment accorded them by the 
British residents of Kingston was such as to cause the following 
comment to appear in the report of Lieutenant Commander Blake: 
<« Landed on an unfriendly shore, in a state of abject destitutioHj 


that should have commanded the sympathy of avowed enemies, we 
felt keenly the unkind criticisms of those who profess to have no 
dislike for our government or its people. ' ' The engineers of the 
Hdtteras who shared in the resulting hardships were Acting First 
Assistant A. M. Covert, and acting third assistants Jos. 0. Cree, 
Jacob Colp and Benjamin C. Bourne. 

On the evening of the 14th of January, the steamer Cohmtbiat 
a purchased vessel attached to the North Atlantic Blockading 
Squadron, while on duty off Marlboro Inlet, North Carolina, got 
ashore on an unknown bar. The gunboat Penobscot went to her aid 
the following day and succeeded in taking off about thirty of her 
crew by means of a surf-line, but night coming on and the sea in- 
creasing compelled the abandonment of the effort at rescue. The 
second day the enemy mounted some guns on the shore and opened 
a heavy fire on the distressed vessel, then practically a wreck, 
which forced her to surrender; the commander, Acting Lieutenant 
J. P. Couthouy, with his remaining officers and men going on shore 
and delivering themselves up as prisoners of war after having 
spiked and thrown overboard the battery. The wreck was burned 
by the captors. The officers all belonged to the volunteer service 
and included George M. Bennett, first assistant engineer ; W. W. 
Shipman and Samuel Lemon, second assistants, and J. H. Pelton 
and W. H. Crawford, third assistants. They were confined first at 
Salisbury, North Carolina, and later in Libby prison until May 5th, 
when they were sent north for exchange. The surgeon, by some 
curious mental operation on the part of the Confederates, was de- 
clared a " non-combatant " and was released on parole, but it did 
not occur to anyone that the paymaster and engineers were entitled 
to like consideration. Perhaps in an actual state of war there was 
no doubt about their military status. 

Early in the morning of January 29th, the British steamer 
Princess Royal, from Halifax by way of Bermuda, attempted to run 
the blockade off Charleston and nearly succeeded, being headed off 
at the last moment by the gunboat Unadilla, whose shots forced the 
captain of the blockade runner to run his ship ashore. Acting 
Master Yan Sice and Third assistant Engineer K. H. Thurston with 
two armed boat-crews took possession of the prize and labored all 
day of the 29th in lightening her preparatory to hauling her off, 


'which was accomplished about dark by the combined efforts of her 
own engines and those of the light-draft vessels of the squadron. 
When afloat, the prize was anchored close to the Housatonic, acting 
as flagship in the absence of the Powhatan and Canandaigua gone to 
Port Koyal for coal, and preparations were carried forward for send- 
ing her north with a prize crew. The Princess Royal had a very 
valuable cargo of rifled guns and marine engines for some Confed- 
erate rams building at Charleston; a great quantity of shoes for the 
army, small arms, armor plates, medicines, canned provisions, hos- 
pital stores, etc. , all worth many times their money value to the 
Confederacy. When adjudicated in the prize court at Philadel- 
phia the sum of $342,005.31 was declared available for distribution, 
shares of which made some of the officers of the Unadilla almost 
wealthy. The vessel had powerful engines with two cylinders 49 
inches diameter and 39 inches stroke, geared to the screw shaft in 
the ratio of five to two. She was converted into a gun vessel and 
performed excellent duty on the blockade during the remainder of 
the war. 

While the people of the Unadilla and the fleet were exerting 
themselves to get the Princess Royal afloat, the Confederates were 
making equally strenuous efforts to prevent it, horses and men in 
large numbers being engaged throughout the day in dragging Biege 
guns from Fort Moultrie through the sands of Sullivan's Island into 
a position to fire upon the stranded steamer, but about the time their 
battery opened fire she was floated and taken out of range. Baffled 
in this attempt, they made on the morning of the 31st, the Princess 
Royal still lying by the Housatonic, a most desperate effort to wrest 
her from her captors. At 4 a. m. two rams — the Chicora and Pal- 
metto State — came down from Charleston and about daylight assailed 
the blockading squadron, superior to them in numbers in about the 
proportion of four to one. Without any desire to detract from the 
gallantry of this attack, it should be stated that with the exception 
of the Housatonic and Unadilla the blockaders in the vicinity were 
all purchased merchant vessels wholly unfit for fighting at close 
quarters, their unsuitability being fully demonstrated by the event. 

The Federal vessels were lying at wide intervale apart, a cir- 
cumstance that further reduced the seeming disparity in force, and 
owing to the morning mist that lay over the water did not discover 


the approach of the enemy until he was close aboard. The first ves- 
sel attacked was the Mercedita, a purchased screw-steamer of about 
800 tons that had cost $100,000 in 1861. She was struck a glanc- 
ing blow on the starboard quarter by one of the rams and at the 
same time was disabled by a heavy rifle shell which passed diagonally 
through her, penetrating the steam drum of the port boiler in its 
passage and filling the ship with hot steam. The ram lay so low in 
the water that the guns of the Mercedita could not be depressed to 
bear upon her and the latter vessel, being thus both helpless and de- 
fenseless, accepted the summons to surrender, the executive officer 
going on board the ram and pledging his word of honor for the pa- 
role of the crew. Nothing was said regarding the vessel and as she 
was not taken possession of by the enemy she was retained in the 
squadron after the fight was over. Her gunner, who was in his room 
at the time, was killed by the shell, and she had three men killed 
and three wounded by scalding; with the exception of one ordinary 
seaman slightly scalded at the engine-room hatch these unfortunate 
men all belonged to the watch on duty in the engine-room. 

Leaving the Mercedita to her fate, to sink or not, the ram next 
joined her consort in an attack upon the Keystone State, a large side- 
wheel merchant steamer of nearly 1,400 tons that had cost $125,000 
in 1861, and did her great damage with shells, one of which set her 
on fire in the fore-hold and another exploded the steam chimneys 
or drums of both boilers. About one-fourth of her crew was in- 
stantly prostrated by the escaping steam, among them Assistant 
Surgeon Gotwold who was scalded to death while in the act of render- 
ing aid to the wounded; several men had been killed or wounded by 
the shells and of the latter a number met death from the steam. 
The total number of casualties was forty, of which twenty-six were 
due to scalding. In this critical condition of the Keystone State her 
captain, Commander (afterward Eear Admiral) William E. LeRoy, 
ordered her flag hauled down in response to a summons to surrender, 
resistance or flight being apparently impossible. The chief engineer, 
Acting First Assistant Archibald K. Eddowes, did not stop the 
engines at this juncture but hastened on deck and informed Com- 
mander LeEoy that thr.y would run for fifteen or twenty minutes on 
their vacuum and that that time should suffice to get out of the 
enemy's reach or obtain assistance from other vessels already be- 


ginning to engage the rams. Upon this representation the captain 
ordered the colors hoisted and the ship moved away from her assail- 
ants, being soon taken in tow by the Memphis and in that manner 
was saved to the United States government through the fidelity and 
knowledge of her chief engineer. 

Mr. Eddowes was subsequently promoted to be an acting chief 
engineer and had the honor of serving for a time as chief engineer of 
the big frigate Minnesota. Being in the volunteer service, he was 
honorably discharged at the close of the war and disappeared from 
naval cognizance for many years. In the summer of 1894 the hard 
times compelled him to write to the Navy Department asking to be 
admitted to the Naval Home in Philadelphia, his letter stating that 
he was old, broken in health, out of employment, and homeless. 
Although not eligible for admission to the institution mentioned 
under a strict interpretation of the law, it is a gratifying fact that his 
case was considered in a liberal manner and his prayer was granted. 
Although now cared for in that manner, there remains in the story 
an undercurrent painfully suggestive of the concluding lines of Mr. 
Kipling's reproachful verses concerning the survivors of the charge 
of the Light Brigade: 

' ' O thirty million English that babble of England's might, 
Behold, there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night; 
Our children's children are lisping 'to honor the charge they made,' 
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade. ' ' 

Besides the two vessels so badly used by the rams, the Qualer 
City was considerably damaged by a shell exploding in her engine- 
room, which fortunately did not kill anyone, and the Augusta also 
received a shell through her side without loss of life. "While the 
fight was in progress Mr. Thurston on the Princess Royal by almost 
superhuman exertions got up steam from cold water and the vessel 
was taken out seaward for safety. About 7.30 a. m. the Housatonic 
and other vessels having reached the scene and attacked the rams, 
they gave up the fight and retreated up the channel to the vicinity 
of Fort Moultrie; late in the afternoon they got under way and re- 
turned to Charleston. 

•'It was this incident which led to the famous dispute in which 
it was asserted by General Beauregard and Commodore Ingraham, 


on the one side, that the blockade had been broken, and that, under 
the accepted interpretation of international law, it could not be re- 
established until after three months' notice, - that time at least being 
thus permitted to free trade, by foreign nations, with the Southern 
Confederacy; while, on the other hand, it was unanimously certi- 
fied, by the officers of the National fleet, that, on the contrary, the 
blockade had not been broken, the fleet had not been driven off, 
and that it had only been the more closely drawn in around the 
harbor of Charleston by the action with the iron-clads. This, which 
was the finally accepted version of the affair, was certainly correct, 
as those of us who were in the action well know. The whole affair 
was over before breakfast, and at 9:30 a. m., our prize was on her 
way to report to Admiral DuPont, at Fort Royal, convoyed by the 
injured vessels, which were sent there for repair." 1 

On January 30th the purchased screw steamer Isaac Smith w 'as 
sent up the Stono River, South Carolina, to make a reconnois- 
sance. When near Legareville she was suddenly attacked by three 
batteries of heavy guns concealed on the banks, and was soon com- 
pelled to surrender, having been entirely disabled by getting a shot 
through her steam drum. Before surrendering she had nine people 
killed and sixteen wounded, the only officer killed being Acting 
Second Assistant Engineer James S. Turner, who was struck in the 
breast and thigh by pieces of shell. Acting Third Assistant En- 
gineer Erastus Barry was wounded, as was also Acting Lieuten- 
ant Conover, who was in command, and the paymaster, Mr. 
F. C. Hills, the latter being in command of the powder divi- 
sion. The survivors, including First Assistant Engineer Jacob 
Tucker and Third Assistant William Ross, became prisoners of 

On the 15th of January the commerce-destroyer Florida ran 
out from Mobile through the blockading fleet and entered upon a 
devastating career in the waters of the West Indies, adding to the 
terror already inspired by the known presence of the Alabama in 
those waters. In September of the preceding year the Florida had 
run into the port of Mobile past the blockade under circumstances 
that made the exploit one of the most daring of any performed 

»Dr. R. H. Thurston, in Cornell Magazine, March, 1890. 


afloat during the war. Built in Liverpool as a copy of a class of 
gun-vessels in the British navy designed for swift despatch boats, 
this vessel had proceded out to the West Indies late in the spring 
of 1862 and had spent the summer of that year with a small and 
disheartened crew wandering about from place to place trying to 
procure men and equipments sufficient to allow her to enter upon 
her intended mission of destruction against American commerce. 
Eventually her commander, Maffitt, with oply about twenty men on 
board fit for duty on account of the ravages of yellow fever, was 
driven to the extremity of seeking a port in the Confederacy where 
he could procure a crew and also acquire nationality for his vessel. 
The Florida being exactly like some of the British gun-boats 
cruising about the Gulf coast, Maffitt resolved to put on a bold 
front and take the chances of a deliberate rush into the line of block - 
aders in broad daylight, which desperate resolve was carried out the 
afternoon of September 4th. The blockading squadron off Mobile 
consisted of the Susquehanna, Oneida and about half a dozen gun- 
boats, but it happened by mere chance that on the day of the 
Florida's appearance all the steamers but the Oneida and Winona 
were away from the immediate vicinity, having gone for coal or on 
other errands in the neighborhood. The approach of the Florida 
was not regarded with much suspicion, as her appearance and the 
white English ensign she displayed made it reasonably certain that 
she was a British gun-vessel that would stop and communicate ac- 
cording to custom before proceeding through the lines. As she came 
on with no slacking of speed, however, the Oneida already cleared 
for action as required by regulation under the circumstances fired 
three shots across her bow in rapid succession, and as these produced 
no sign of her stopping a broadside was fired into her, followed by 
a general cannonading from the Oneida and from the Winona and 
gun-schooner Rachel Seamen some distance away. But the ruse 
was successful ; the Florida had advanced so far and was running 
at such speed that she passed on and was soon under the protection 
of the guns of Fort Morgan, having received a "frightful mauling," 
to use Maffitt's own words, and lost twelve men in killed and 
wounded. When thoroughly repaired, manned and equipped, she 
came out in January, 1863 ; ran the blockade successfully, and 
began her career as before mentioned. 


A flying squadron commanded by Captain Wilkes of San 
Jacinto fame was kept busy scouring the West Indies in search of 
the commerce-destroyers. On the first day of February the double- 
ender Sonorroa of this squadron, while near the southern end of that 
body of water lying between Andros Island and Nassau known to 
sailors as the Tongue of the Ocean, discovered a strange sail about 
six miles to the northward and gave chase, the stranger being identified 
when examined with the marine glasses as the much-sought-for 
Florida. The pursuit was kept up with varying prospects of success 
for thirty-four hours, during which time no one on the Sonoma slept 
nor ate a regular meal ; after traversing the length of the Tongue of 
the Ocean and the Providence Channel the pursued vessel stood out 
on a northeast course into the open sea, where her superior sea 
qualities enabled her to draw away from the Sonoma and escape. 
The episode is not especially important except for an engineering 
question involved, which is the reason for its introduction. 

The chief engineer of the Sonoma was Acting First Assistant 
Engineer Henry E. Rhoades who demonstrated his capability and 
zeal as an engineer by remaining on duty continuously during the 
chase and urging the boilers to their utmost capacity under forced 
draft, even going to the extent of burning hams and bacon to add 
to the fierceness of the fires. That he was able to keep a vessel like 
the Sonoma for more than thirty hours close astern of the Florida, 
built with special reference to speed, is sufficient proof of his ability as 
an engineer, although in doing it he well knew that he was inflicting 
fatal injury upon his own machinery. The commanding officer of 
the Sonoma, Commander T. H. Stevens, published in the Cosmopo- 
litan Magazine for December, 1890, a very interesting account of 
this chase, from which narrative the following extracts are made: 
"Orders were at once given to the engineer to make all possible 
steam, the sails were cast loose, and the Sonoma sprung ahead in 
pursuit." . . . "Renewed orders were given to the engineer to 
crowd all steam and use every possible effort to increase the steam 
by the use of blowers or through any other means." ... " Two 
or three times the engineer reported that the extreme pressure upon 
the boilers if kept up would cause an explosion, to which reply was 
finally made, ' Your duty is to obey orders, mine to capture or de- 
stroy the Florida at any risk." 


This latter sentiment is an eminently proper one from a mili- 
tary standpoint, for more than one commander or final judge of ex- 
pedients in a camp or on board an armed vessel can only result in 
confusion and failure through crossing of authority, but the principle 
should in all cases be double-acting to the extent of holding the 
determining authority alone responsible for the results of his judg- 
ment, both in success and failure. The last reference to the /Sonoma 
in the magazine article from which quotations have been made 
says : " Shortly afterward, upon receiving orders to take the Sonoma 
to New York, we proceeded thither and immediately after our arrival 
there the vessel was put out of commission. The long chase of the 
Florida made extensive repairs essential. " The vessel arrived at 
New York about the middle of June and a survey showed that her 
cylinder had been damaged by overwork and that her boiler tubes 
were so nearly burned out that they would have to be entirely 
renewed. The story is concluded by the following letter sent to Mr. 
Rhoades under date of July 25th : " Sir : A report of the examina- 
tion of the machinery of the gunboat Sonoma shows that it has been 
seriously injured in consequence of your neglect of duty. You are 
therefore dismissed the service, and will, from this date, cease to be 
regarded as an Acting First Assistant Engineer in the navy. 

Yery respectfully, 
Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy." 

The town of Washington some distance up the Pamlico River 
from Pamlico Sound had been taken and occupied by the Federal 
naval force in the North Carolina Sounds since early in 1862. Dur- 
ing the first two weeks of April, 1863, the enemy cut off water com- 
munication by occupying some works below the town and made a 
determined though unsuccessful attempt to recapture it, the two or 
three naval vessels thus cut oft being forced to severe and prolonged 
exertions to retain possession of the place and preserve themselves. 
The following extracts from official reports regarding the investment 
refer to valuable services performed by members of the engineer 

From the report of Acting Bear Admiral S. P. Lee : 

"The Louisiana, Commodore Hull, and an armed transport 


called the Eagle, under charge of Second Assistant Engineer Lay and 
Paymaster W. W. Williams, of the Louisiana, as volunteers, were 
almost constantly engaged with the enemy's batteries opposite Wash- 

"... Acting Second Assistant Engineer H. Rafferty, Acting 
Third Assistant Engineer John E. Harper, ... are recommended 
to especial notice for their good conduct and bravery in battle." 

From the report of Commander E. T. Kenshaw of the Louisiana: 

" Second Assistant Engineer John L. Lay and Assistant Pay- 
master W. W. Williams volunteering to take charge of the guns on 
board transport Eagle, I directed them to do so; they have done good 
service,and acted to my entire satisfaction." 

"Acting Third Assistant Engineer Thomas Mallahan, of the 
Ceres, while attempting to land in one of her boats, was killed by a 
musket ball." 

From the report of Acting Lieutenant Graves of the Lockwood: 

" Late in the afternoon my boiler commenced leaking to such 
an extent as to put out the fires. I ordered the engineers to blow 
out the water and repair it temporarily with all possible despatch, 
and my thanks are due to Acting Second Assistant Engineer J. T. 
Newton and and Acting Third Assistant John I. Miller for the 
energy and promptness they displayed in complying with my orders. 
At 9 p. m. had steam again." 

As early as May, 1862, the Navy Department had informed 
Flag Officer DuPont confidentially of its intention to attempt the 
capture of Charleston, and in January, 1863, orders were sent to 
him to carry the plan into execution, the iron-clads as fast as com- 
pleted being ordered to report to him for the undertaking. One of 
the first to arrive, the Montauk, Captain John L. Worden, distin- 
guished herself the 28th of February by going under the guns 
of Fort McAllister in the Ogeechee River and destroying with her 


shells the Confederate steamer Nashville which had been discovered 

aground about 1,200 yards up the river, the Montauk receiving a 

severe fire from the fort without material damage while shelling the 

Nashville. On the third of March, DuPont, to test the mechanical 

appliances of the monitors and give the men practice in firing the 

guns, sent the Passaic, Patapsco and Nahantto attack Fort McAllister. 

The monitors stood the test well and received no serious damage 

beyond dents in the turrets and side armor, while the few defects in 

turret turning mechanism, gun mounts and machinery that existed 

were discovered and remedied. The Weehawken while on her way 

to join the fleet broke down February 7th off Port Royal and was 

completely disabled. The trunk of one of her engines broke short 
off at the piston, canting the latter to the extent of cracking the 

cylinder beyond repair. It happened that the cylinders of the 
Comanche were completed in Jersey City and were made from the 
same patterns and in the same shop where the Weehawken was built 
so by use of the telegraph and the chartering of a vessel the cylinders 
of the latter with all their attachments were hastened to Port Royal 
and installed in the disabled vessel in a remarkably short space of 

On the 7th of April DuPont made an unsuccessful attack upon 
Fort Sumter with the New Ironsides, Montauk, Weehawken, Cats- 
kill, Passaic, Nahant, Patapsco, Nantucket and Keokuk. The iron- 
clads were in action less than two hours and were then withdrawn 

by signal from the flagship. A quartermaster was killed in the pilot 
house of the Nahant by a flying piece of bolt from the armor and 
Commander Downes and five others were injured in the same manner 
on that vessel. The Keokuk with her curious striped armor fared 
badly, being struck ninety times in thirty minutes and pierced through 
at and about the water-line nineteen times, while her turret was 
penetrated and the ship generally riddled. Fifteen of her crew were 
wounded, some of them seriously. She was kept afloat during the 
ensuing night, but when the water became rough in the morning she 
sank, her people being taken off just in time to save their lives. 
Rear Admiral DuPont made a discouraging report to the Navy 
Department respecting the monitors, and Chief Engineer Stimers, 
who had been sent down from New York with a company of 
machinists and ship-smiths to repair injuries to the iron-clads, 


reported very favorably regarding them, the two reports being tlie 
beginning of a famous controversy that will be dealt with in a 
separate chaptei. 

The iron-clads did not again engage the Charleston forts while 
nnder DuPont's command, but in June an event took place that did 
much to redeem the reputation of the monitors. In JSoveuiber, 
1861, an English iron steamer named Fingal ran the blockade into 
Savannah and after discharging her cargo was sold to the Confederate 
government and converted into an armored vessel of war by altera- 
tions practically the same as those adopted in the case of the 
Merrimac, with the addition of a heavy armor belt of timber about 
the water-line and a torpedo spar fitted on the bow. She was armed 
with two 6^jj- inch and two 7 inch Brooke rifles, the latter pivoted 
for bow and stern as well as broadside fire, and had a crew of one 
hundred and forty-five officers and men. These preparations con- 
sumed much time and it was not until 1863 that she was ready for 
service, the blockaders in the meanwhile having maintained a vigilant 
watch over all channels whereby she might get to sea. In June it 
became definitely known that the Atlanta, as the Fingal had been 
re-named, had crossed over into Wassaw Sound south of Savannah 
and might be expected to make a raid on the blockaders thereabouts. 
The double-ender Oimmerone being the only vessel just then off 
Wassaw Sound, Admiral DuPont immediately despatched thither the 
monitors Weehawken and Nahant, the senior officer being sturdy 
John Rodgers in the Weeliawken. 

Early in the morning of June 17th, the anniversary of Bunker 
Hill, the Atlanta came down to give battle to the monitors, being 
accompanied by two steamers said to have been filled with excursion- 
ists expecting to witness an easy victory. Owing to the narrowness of 
the channel the Nahant, having no pilot, had to follow the Weehawken 
and was unable to fire a gun in the action which ensued. At 4. 55 a. 
m. the Atlanta opened fire without effect, which was not returned 
until twenty minutes later when Rodgers with deliberate precision 
began using the Weehawken's guns, one of which was a Xl-inch like 
those of the original Monitor, and the other a XV-inch. In fifteen 
minutes the Atlanta, then aground and badly damaged, hauled down 
her colors and surrendered. Four of the five shots fired from the 
Weehawken had struck her. one of the XV-inch, the first fired, having 


broken through the armor and wood backing, strewed the gun-deck 
with splinters and prostrated forty men by the concussion, one of 
whom died : the other XY-inch shot knocked off the top of the 
pilot house and disabled both pilots and the man at the wheel, which 
accounts for the vessel going aground. One of the Xl-inch shots 
did no damage beyond breaking a plate or two at the knuckle, but 
the other one carried away a port-shutter and scattered its fragments 
about the gun-deck. Lieutenant Commander .D. B. Harmony of the 
Nahant was put in charge with a prize crew, Acting First Assistant 
Engineer J. G. Young of the Weehawken taking charge of the en- 
gines. The prize was found fully equipped with ammunition and 
stores for a cruise and was appraised as follows by a board of naval 

Hull 5250,000.00 

Machinery 80,000.00 

Ordnance, ordnance stores &c 14,02291 

Medical stores s 20.00 

Provisions, clothing and small stores I,012.h5 

Equipments and stores in the master's, boatswain's, sailmaker's, and car- 
penter's departments 5,773.50 

Total valuation $350,829.2f> 

The above amount, less $789.30 costs of trial, was subsequently 
declared by the prize court as available for distribution. 

Three hours after the surrender the engine of the Atlanta was 
reversed by engineer Young and the vessel backed off into deep 
water, proceeding later under her own steam without convoy to Port 
Royal where she was repaired and enrolled in the naval service of 
the United States. Captain Eodgers' report of the engagement con- 
tains the following: " The engine, under the direction of First 
Assistant Engineer James G. Young, always in beautiful order, was 
well worked. Mr. Young has, I hope, by his participation in this 
action, won the promotion for which, on account of his skill and 
valuable services, I have already recommended him." On the 5th 
of July Mr. Young received his promotion to the grade of acting 
chief engineer. 

The outline sketches of the Atlanta here following are repro- 
duced from drawings made at the time of her capture by Second 



Assistant Engineer P. E. Voorhees of the Wabash, and were for- 
warded as part of the official report of the capture. In a general 
way they serve to illustrate the type of armored vessels which lack of 
iron building material forced the constructors and engineers of the 
South to resort to. 


/^a rsa 




Confeuekatis Iron-Clad Atlanta, captured by the WeehawTcen. 
Enlarged section on A-B showing framing, wooden armor, etc. 

Kear Admiral John A. Dahlgren relieved Eear Admiral Du- 
Pont on the 6th of July and immediately began a determined and 
prolonged struggle, in conjunction with the army, for the possession 
of Charleston Harbor, partial success being achieved by the capture 
of Morris Island and its formidable fort, Wagner, on the 6th of 
September. Fort Sumter was steadily assailed for months and by 
the end of the year was little more than a heap of ruins, though the 
enemy retained possession of it. A noteworthy casualty of the siege 


occurred on the Catskill while engaged with Fort Wagner on the 
17th of August. A shot from the fort struck the top of the pilot- 
house and shattered the inner lining of it, pieces of which killed 
Commander George W. Eodgers and Assistant Paymaster J. G. 
Woodbury, and wounded a pilot and a master's mate, all of whom 
were in the pilot-house. It is claimed by the friends of the monitor 
type of ships that these two unfortunate officers and the quarter- 
master killed on the Nahwnt were the only persons who were killed 
on the monitors by cannon fire during the whole course of the war. 
The constant employment of the monitors during these months of 
siege entailed much hard work and suffering upon the engine-room 
force, the reports of commanding officers containing frequent 
reference to a prostration of engineers and firemen from the 
intense heat of their stations. 

Immediately after the evacuation of Morris Island by the enemy 
an unsuccessful attempt was made to take Sumter by assault, a land- 
ing party of about four hundred men from the fleet being sent on 
shore the night of September 8th for that purpose. While landing 
from the boats a number of casualties occured from the enemy's fire 
and the party was driven off after a sharp fight with the loss of about 
one hundred and twenty officers and men made prisoners, Third 
Assistant Engineer J. H. Harmony of the Housatonic being one of 
the latter. The night of October 5th a most daring attempt to blow up 
the New Irormdes was made by Lieutenant Glassell, Assistant 
Engineer Toombs, and a pilot, who went out to her in a small and 
almost submerged cigar-shaped craft and exploded a torpedo close 
alongside the big iron-clad. The explosion started some beams and 
knees in the side of the iron-clad but did no serious injury. A mass 
of water fell upon the deck and also extinguished the fires of her 
assailant. Lieutenant Glassell took to the water and was captured; 
the engineer and pilot stuck to their disabled boat and afterward got 
up steam and returned to Charleston the same night. For this Mr. 
Toombs was made a chief engineer. 

In the operations of this protracted seige the resisting and 
aggressive qualities of the monitors were well tested and demon- 
strated. An idea of the hard knocks they gave and took during the 
summer may be gained from the following tabular statement of their 
services, as reported to the department by Admiral Dahlgren: 












iv in. 

xi in. 






























The limited operations of the Lehigh were due to the fact that 
she did not arrive at Charleston until August 30, and consequently 
was engaged only about a week of the period dealt with. 

About the middle of the afternoon of Sunday , December 6, the 
Weehwwken sank at her anchorage off Morris Island. The cause of 
this disaster as determined by a court of inquiry appears to have 
been altering her trim by stowing an unusual quantity of shot and 
shell in the bow compartments and leaving the forward hatch open 
when water was breaking on board. Ordinarily all water ran aft 
and was thrown out by the pumps in the engine-room, but with the 
changed trim this did not occur until a large quantity of water had 
accumulated forward, bringing her more and more down by the 
head, and rapidly increasing through new leaks started by the 
unusually heavy load forward. This condition was not discovered 
until ten or fifteen minutes before she sank, and the desperate 
attempts then made to relieve her were unavailing; her limit of 
buoyancy, which was only 125 tons, was reached before the pumps 
began gaining on the water, and she went down. Four officers and 
twenty-six men perished in her, the entire watch on duty in the 
engine and fire-rooms being lost. The four officers drowned were 
all third assistant engineers — Messrs. Henry W. Merian; Augustus 
Mitchell;"' George W. McGowan, and Charles Spangberg. Two of 
these were on duty and the other two heroically went to the engine- 
room to try to render assistance instead of saving themselves, as 


they might have done. The engineer in charge, Mr. J. B. A. 
Allen, acting second assistant, whose duties obliged him to go on 
deck at intervals to report to the executive officer, was saved. 


" For Southern prisons will sometimes yawn, 
And yield their dead unto life again; 
And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn 
In golden glory at last may wane." 

Kate Putnam Osgood. 

1863 — The Civil War, Continued — The War on the Western Waters — Passage 
of Port Hudson — Destruction of the Frigate Mississippi — Minor Opera- 
tions in the West — New Vessels Placed Under Construction — The Light- 
Draft Monitors — Iron Double-Enders — Large Wooden Frigates and Sloops- 
of- War— The First Swift Cruisers — The Kalamazoo Class of Monitors- 
Assimilated Rank of Staff Officers Raised — New Regulations Governing 
Promotion in the Engineer Corps Issued. 

THE naval force in 1863 on the western rivers was engaged in a 
ceaseless and baffling warfare under conditions that were very 
difficult and often disheartning. Great annoyance was experienced 
from the development by the Confederates of the torpedo, and another 
danger, equally unassailable, existed in the guerrillas or "bush- 
whackers " who infested the swamps and forests along the river 
banks in such unseen numbers that no man's life was safe on a pass- 
ing steamer. David D. Porter, still a commander, but holding an 
acting appointment as rear admiral, was now in general command of 
the Mississippi fleet, which had been increased by a number of regu- 
larly built war vessels in addition to the mortar boats and make-shifts 
previously spoken of. On the 4th of July Porter was commissioned 
a rear admiral in recognition of his services before Vicksburg, which 
place succumbed to the combined army and naval forces on that 
date. Besides Porter's fleet, vessels of Farragut's West Gulf block- 
ading squadron also operated in the river, the most noteworthy battle 
of the year in this region being fought by a division of that 

The night of March 14-15 Farragut attempted to run past the 
formidable batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana, his object in wish- 
ing to get above them being to cut off the enemy's supplies from 
the Ked River region and also to recover if possible the iron-clad 


casemated gunboat Indianola, which had been captured by four 
Confederate steamers on February 24th. Farragut's fleet consisted 
of his flagship Hartford, three large ships and three gunboats. To 
provide for keeping the large vessels going ahead in case of injury 
to their machinery they were each ordered to lash a gunboat along- 
side on their port sides, that being away from Port Hudson which 
is located on the east side of the river. The Mississippi had no 
consort; not from any sentiment that the old sea-veteran could 
fight her battles better alone, but because there was no gunboat for 
her and her overhanging paddle-boxes would have made the arrange- 
ment difficult if not impossible had there been another gunboat 
available. The iron-clad Essex and some mortar boats of Porter's 
fleet were also present and did good service bombarding the forts, 
as they had done before at the forts below New Orleans.' 

Shortly before midnight the squadron moved up the river and 
received a terrible fire from the batteries on shore, the ships being 
brought into bold relief by the light of burning buildings and bon- 
fires on the banks. Farragut in the Hartford, with the Albatross 
lashed alongside, succeeded in running the batteries and gained a 
position in the river above, but all the other vessels failed in the 
attempt. The Monongahda grounded on a spit in front of the 
principal battery and for half an hour was a stationary target for a 
most severe fire which killed six and wounded twenty-one of her 
crew, Captain McKinstry being among the wounded. Her escape 
from this almost fatal predicament was due largely to the exertions 
and courage of her chief engineer, Mr. George F. Kutz, and his 
assistants, the senior one of whom was Mr. Joseph Trilley, now a 
chief engineer in the navy. To work the engines to their utmost 
in the endeavor to back off, these officers took the desperate risk of 
doubling the steam pressure in the boilers and with the added 
power thus obtained and ^he assistance of the consort Kvneo the 
ship was finally floated. This extraordinary power worked through 
the engines resulted in heating the forward crank pin, the brasses 
of which were slacked off during a momentary stop, and the engines 
thereafter kept running at full speed by playing a stream of water 
from the fire hose on the hot pin until the ship was off the bottom. 
By that time the pin was so burned and cut that the engines were 
disabled and the Monongahda and Emeo had to drop down the 


river out of action. While the engineers were struggling with the 
crank-pin adjustment an 80-pounder rifle shot came into the engine- 
room and broke into pieces by striking the end of the reversing shaft. 

The reports made by the commanding and executive 'officers 
ascribed the failure of the Monongahela to get past the batteries to 
the failure of the engines, but Chief Engineer Kutz was able to 
prove to the satisfaction of Admiral Farragut that the casualty to 
the engines occurred while unusual exertions were being made to 
back off the spit, and not after the vessel was again afloat, as had 
been charged. 

The Mississippi following astern of the Monongahela also went 
aground and for thirty-five minutes made heroic endeavors to get 
off and escape from the galling cross fire of three batteries concen- 
trated upon her. The chief engineer, Mr. Wm. H. Rutherford, 
increased the steam pressure from thirteen to twenty-five pounds 
and backed the engines with all their power without avail. The 
fire of the enemy finally became so accurate and deadly that Cap- 
tain Melancthon Smith deemed it "most judicious and humane," 
as he expressed it in his report, to abandon the vessel, and then 
followed a task that must have been most repugnant to those who 
loved the old ship and respected her historical associations. Her 
battery was spiked; the small arms thrown overboard; the engineers 
and their men broke and destroyed the vital parts of the machinery, 
fires were kindled in several places between decks, and after the 
sick and wounded were brought up the ship was left to her fate. 
Sixty-four of her crew were reported killed and missing and two 
hundred and thirty-three as saved, a number of the latter being 
wounded from the enemy's fire, among them Mr. J. E. Fallon, 
third assistant engineer. In this disaster and its sequence Third 
Assistant Engineer Jefferson Brown was the subject of one of those 
incidents of resurrection from supposed death which occurred a 
number of times during the Civil War and turned mourning iuto 
rejoicing for a number of families both North and South. Mr. 
Brown was reported drowned when the Mississippi was lost, and in 
collecting material for this book the writer found his name still in- 
scribed in the list of the dead in the casualty-book of the rebellion 
kept by the bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department. 
Some months after the disaster, when an exchange of prisoners was 


effected, Mr. Brown appeared among the captives given np, and has 
lived to be at present a chief engineer on the retired list of the 

The following spirited description of the final scene in the 
career of the Mississippi is taken from a paper read before the Dis- 
trict of Columbia Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal 
Legion by Chief Engineer Harrie Webster, U. S. Navy, who as an 
assistant engineer on board the Genesee witnessed the tragedy. 

"As the smoke slowly drifted to leeward we caught sight of the 
old frigate Mississippi, hard and fast aground, apparently aban- 
doned, and on fire. 

' 'When we first discovered her the fire was already crawling up 
the rigging. 

"From every hatch the flames were surging heavenward, and 
it seemed but a question of minutes when the good old ship must 
blow up. 

"Every mast, spar, and rope was outlined against the dark 
background of forest and sky, and it was a sad, and at the same 
time, a beautiful spectacle. 

"While all hands were speculating on the causes of the 
disaster the staunch old craft, which had braved the gales of every 
clime, slowly floated free from the bank, and, turned by an eddy in 
the current, swept out into the river and headed for the fleet as 
though under helmsman's control. 

• 'As the burning ship neared the ships at anchor in her path, 
her guns, heated by the flames, opened fire, one after another in 
orderly sequence, and as their breechings had been burned away 
the recoil carried them amidships, where, crashing through the 
weakened deck, they fell into the fiery depths, showers of sparks 
and fresh flames following the plunge. 

"Fortunately for us, her guns had been trained on the bluffs, 
so her shots flew wide of the fleet and sped crashing into the forest 
below the batteries of Port Hudson. 

"Majestically, as though inspired with victory, the ship, which 
by this time was a mass of fire from stem to stern, from truck to 
water-line, floated past the fleet, down past Profit's Island, down 
into the darkness of the night. 


"Suddenly, as if by magic, her masts shot into the air all 
ablaze, a tremendous tongue of flame pierced the sky for an instant, 
and amid the muffled thunder of her exploded magazine the 
Mississippi disappeared in the stream whose name she had borne so 
bravely and so long. ' ' 

The Richmond, with the Genesee alongside, was the second in 
line following the flagship, and was disabled at the turning point in 
the river opposite the batteries by a shot carrying away both her 
safety valves and letting off the steam, which obliged her to drop 
down stream, the Genesee being unable to carry her up against the 
strong current. She had three men killed and twelve wounded, the 
majority of the casualties occurring among the marines, a gun's 
crew of whom were nearly all swept away by a single shot. Com- 
mands James Alden of the Richmond in his report of the battle 
said, "To Mr. Moore, our chief engineer, great credit is due for his 
management throughout the fight, and particularly after the accident 
to the safety-valve chest. ' ' The Genesee was considerably damaged 
by shot and had three wounded; her commander reported, "I 
also bring to special notice the efficient manner in which Mr. John 
Cahill, senior engineer, and the assistant engineers, Charles H. 
Harreb, Michael McLaughlin, Christopher Milton and Sarrie 
Webster, with the firemen and coal heavers attached to this depart, 
ment, worked the engine and supplied the furnaces during the 
action. ' ' 

The state of affairs in the engine department of the Richmond 
was most critical after the destruction of the safety valves, the 
engine and fire-rooms being filled with steam, which obliged the 
most heroic devotion to duty in order to save the boilers by hauling 
the fires. Mr. Eben Hoyt, the first assistant engineer, was con- 
spicuous in this work, as described by the following from the 
official report of Chief Engineer John W. Moore : 

' ' I consider it my duty to bring to your notice the valuable 
assistance rendered me by First Assistant Engineer E. Hoyt, who, 
during the whole engagement, was actively employed wherever 
most required, until after having penetrated the steam several times, 
while superintending the hauling of the fires, trying to ascertain the 


extent of injury, &c. , he was finally led away completely exhausted 
and fainting." 

In forwarding this report to the Secretary of the Navy, Com- 
mander Alden sent the following letter: 

" Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith the report of the 
chief engineer of this vessel setting forth the injuries done to our 
machinery on the night of the 14th instant. It would have 
been sent with the others, but Mr. Moore's attention has been 
so entirely engrossed in the personal superintendence of the repairs 
that it was found impracticable. 

" In my general report of our proceedings, at the time re- 
ferred to, I had occasion to speak of Mr. Moore's services, and 
would again call the attention of the department to his merits as an 
officer. All that he says of his assistants I can endorse most fully, 
and would beg leave to mention here what I regret was from some 
oversight omitted in my first report, namely, that Third Assistant 
Engineer Weir, who was stationed at the bell-pull on the bridge, 
was of the greatest assistance to me in pointing out the location of 
the different batteries, and although knocked down and injured by 
splinters, recovered himself immediately and continued unflinch- 
ingly at his post." 

In order to communicate with the admiral above Port Hudson, 
Commander Alden directed the commander of the Genesee to fit out 
an expedition from his vessel for that purpose. As the undertaking 
was one of great peril, volunteers were called for from among the 
officers, and three or four respopded: from these Commander 
Macomb selected Acting Third Assistant Engineer Harrie Webster, 
although he was the only staff officer who had volunteered; put him 
in command of a boat's crew, and started him off ofl his dangerous 
mission. Mr. Webster successfully took his boat through the six 
or eight miles of intervening swamps and lagoons, delivered his 
despatches to Admiral Farragut, received others from him to Com- 
mander Alden, and returned to the Genesee the same night. On 
the way back he landed and examined a signal station of the enemy, 
and, finding about it the fresh trail of a horseman, he took his party 


in pursuit, eventually overhauling and capturing at the point of his 
revolver a Confederate lieutenant with his horse, accoutrements, and 
important despatches. The exploit was one of remarkable nerve 
and daring, performed as it was in the gloomy fastnesses of the 
enemy's country. 

On the 22nd of March while Rear Admiral Porter with some 
mortar-boats and small steamers was trying to work through the 
thickets of Steele's Bayou and thus get into the Yazoo Kiver, he 
was attacked by a large force of the enemy concealed in the woods; 
two of his men were severely wounded and Acting Third Assistant 
Engineer Henry Sullivan of the Dahlia was struck by a rifle ball 
and killed. 

On March 28th the purchased gun-vessel Diana, Acting Master 
T. L. Peterson commanding, was sent into Grand Lake from the 
Atchafalaya River to make a reconnoissance. When on her return 
she was attacked near Berwick Bay from shore by field pieces and 
sharp-shooters, and was forced to surrender after a fiercely fought 
contest lasting nearly three hours. The commanding officer and 
two master's mates next to him in rank were killed before the sur- 
render, and Acting Assistant Engineer James MoNally was also 
killed, the latter's death being instantaneous from a Minie ball in 
the head. 

About the middle of July while a detachment of vessels of the 
Mississippi flotilla was up the Yazoo Biver destroying Confederate 
steamers that had taken refuge there, the armored gunboat Baron 
de Kalb ran upon two torpedoes and was sunk in twenty feet of 
water. Her hull was so damaged that no effort was made to raise 
her, but her guns, stores, and parts of the machinery were removed, 
and her armor plates were taken off to prevent them from becoming 
of use to the enemy. The Baron de Kalb was originally the St. 
Louis, the name having been changed about the time she was trans- 
ferred to the Navy Department, and she was the third of the seven 
original Edes iron-clads to be destroyed by the enemy. The Cairo 
was sunk by a torpedo in the Yazoo River in December, 1862, and 
the Cincinnati was sunk by the Vicksburg batteries, May 27th, 
1863. These disasters were unattended with loss of life except in 
the case of the Cincinnati, which had nineteen people killed or 
drowned and fourteen wounded, First Engineer Simon Shultice 
being one of the latter. 


An unfortunate and unsuccessful attack was made September 
8th by a combined army and navy force upon a fortified position at 
Sabine Pass, Texas. The force consisted of 1,200 troops in trans- 
ports, convoyed by the naval steamers Granite Oity, Arizona, Sachem, 
and Clifton, all purchased vessels of inferior resisting powers. In 
the engagement the two last named were both disabled by shots ex- 
ploding their boilers, and were compelled to surrender. The Sachem 
had two engineers and seven men killed and a considerable number 
wounded, the two unfortunate engineers being John Frazer, acting 
second assistant engineer, and John Munroe, acting third assistant. 
The executive officer, Acting Master Khoades, and seven men of the 
Clifton were killed and a number, mostly soldiers, wounded; her chief 
engineer, Mr. Bradley, was wounded and was afterward reported by 
the Confederate captors of the survivors as having died of his injuries. 

In October the commander of the ironclad Osage, of the Missis- 
sippi squadron, having received information that a Confederate steamer 
was tied up to the bank in the Eed Eiver, sent out an expedition 
under command of Acting Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty, with 
Assistant Engineer Hobbs as his lieutenant, which expedition captured 
and destroyed the steamer and another one, took a number of pris- 
oners, and returned without loss to the Osage. Mr. Doughty's re- 
port of the affair, dated October 1, 1863, follows: 

"Sib: In obedience to your order, I, with a party of twenty 
men, with the assistance of Mr. Hobbs, started for Eed Eiver this 
morning. Arriving at Eed Eiver, I could see no signs of a steam- 
boat. I divided the party, sending eight men down the river to look 
into the bend below, and with twelve started up the river. When 
we had traveled about half a mile I saw the chimneys of a steamer. 
The woods were found so dense that we could not penetrate them, 
and the only alternative was to advance in sight. The steamer was 
on the opposite side of the river, and I feared those on board might 
see us in time to escape before we were near enough to use our rifles. 
No one saw us, and I chose a spit opposite her, where we could see 
any one who attempted to escape. I hailed her; two men were seen 
to run forward and disappear; I directed three files on the right to 
fire. The fire brought the men out, and at my command they brought 
to my side of the river two skiffs which belonged to the boat. I was 


about to embark a party to burn her, when I heard a steamboat de- 
scending the river. I ordered the men out of sight behind a large 
log and some bushes, and in two minutes I saw a steamer round the 
point above. I waited until she was within four hundred yards, and 
showed myself, and ordered her to stop. She did so, and I found 
myself in possession of nine prisoners and two steamboats. I knew 
I could not get them out of the river, and I ordered the destruction 
of the first one captured, the Argus, and embarked on board the sec- 
ond, the Robert Fulton, and steamed down to the landing where I 
first struck the river, where I ordered her to be set on fire, and in a 
few minutes she was one mass of flame. She was the better vessel 
of the two, and was valued by her owner at seventy-five thousand 
dollars. Neither of them had any cargo on board. I captured all 
the officers of the boats, one first lieutenant in the Confederate army, 
and three negroes." 

Admiral Porter in reporting this affair to the Department said, 
" This is a great loss to the rebels at this moment, as* it cuts off their 
means of operating across that part of Atchafalaya where they lately 
came over to attack Morganzia. This capture will deter others from 
coming down Ked River. The affair was well managed, and the officers 
and men composing the expedition deserve great credit for the share 
they took in it. " 

During 1863 the navy was increased by about one hundred and 
thirty vessels of all kinds acquired by purchase or capture, and lost 
thirty-two in battle or by accidental destruction. Fifty-eight 
vessels of war were placed under construction during the same 
period. The first of these were twenty light-draft single-turreted 
monitors, contracts for the construction of which were distributed 
among a dozen different cities from Portland, Maine, to St. Louis, 
Missouri, during the spring months of the year. The general plans 
for these monitors were furnished by John Ericsson and the entire 
control and supervision of their building was entrusted to Chief 
Engineer A. C. Stimers. They were designed to draw six feet of 
■water and were intended to operate in shallow rivers and other 
inland waters where guerrillas had made the service of other types 
of light-draft boats extremely perilous and of doubtful success. For 
causes that will be referred to later, these monitors failed to fulfill 

iifliHfiniiiiiiii I iiiii iiiiiiirf 


















- -, 



































their mission and never rendered any service of value to the govern- 
ment. Their names were, Gasco, Ghimo, Cohoes, Mlah, Klamath, 
Koka, Modoc, Napa, Mmbuc, Nausett, Shawnee, Shiloh, Squando- 
SwncooJc, Tunms, , Umpqua, Wassuc, Waxsaw, Yazoo, and Yuma. 

In June and July contracts were made with various ship-builders 
for seven iron double-enders, somewhat larger than those of the 
two classes previously built; each had a single inclined low-pressure 
engine from designs furnished by the engineer-in-chief. They were 
of 1,370 tons displacement and were named Ashuelot, Mohongo, 
Monocacy, Muscoota, Shamoken, Suwanee, and Winnipec. 

In order to provide for a fleet that would be useful for general 
cruising purposes when peace should be restored, the Department 
had plans prepared by the Bureau of Construction during the 
summer for a number of large wooden frigates and sloops-of-war, 
and began the construction of a number of them at the different 
navy yards. Unfortunately the supply of seasoned timber had been 
so drawn upon by the unusual amount of ship-building of the pre- 
ceding years that much green material had to be used in these 
vessels and as a consequence those that were eventually finished 
were very short-lived. Being long and narrow, they were strength- 
ened with diagonal iron bracing amounting almost to an enormous 
iron basket woven over the hull, and this held them together long 
after the decay of the timbers and would have caused them to fall 
in pieces. 

Eight of these ships were gun-deck frigates of 4,000 tons dis- 
placement and full ship-rigged. They were about 310 feet long 
between perpendiculars and forty-six feet extreme beam. Their 
names were, Antietam, Ouerriere, Illinois, Java, Kewaydin, 
Mmnetonka, Ontario, and Piscataqua. Two other gun-deck frig- 
ates, the Sassalo and Wawtaga, somewhat larger than these eight, 
were projected at the same time, but their hulls were never built. 
In addition to the frigates, ten large sloops-of-war of what was 
known as the Oontoocook class were ordered. They were of about 
3 050 tons displacement and were named Arapahoe, Oontoocook, 
Keosauqua, Manitou, Mondamin, Mosholu, Pushmataha, Tahgayvia, 
Wanalosett, and Willamette. Of these only four — the Contoocook, 
Manitou, Mosholu and Pushmataha — were ever built, and they, 
with the new names of Aloam/, Worcester, Severn, and Congress 


respectively, fell into decay after not many years' service. All 
twenty of the ships above named were to have two-cylinder back- 
acting engines of the Isherwood type, the cylinders being sixty 
inches in diameter and three feet stroke of piston; boilers for each 
vessel were specified to have not less than 546 square feet of grate 
service. Late in the fall Mr. Isherwood, acting for the Depart- 
ment, entered into contracts with eleven different machinery firms 
for the engines and boilers of these ships, the contract price for 
machinery for each ship being $400,000, except the Ontario which 
contract was awarded to John Roach of the Etna Iron Works for 
$385,000. Owing to the non-completion of the hulls of many of 
the ships, the matter of making settlements and compromises with 
the machinery contractors became a vexed problem for the bureau 
of steam engineering to struggle with after the war. 

The swift cruiser came into existence this year also by the be- 
ginning of work on seven vessels in which speed waB to be the most 
important element. The Secretary of the Navy in explaining the 
need of having such vessels said in his annual report for that year, 
" Besides the turreted vessels for coast defense and large armored 
ships for naval conflict we need and should have steamers of high 
speed constructed of wood, with which to sweep the ocean, and 
chase and hunt down the vessels of an enemy." One of these 
cruisers, the Idaho, was the child of Mr. E. N. Dickerson, who had 
secured sufficient influence to obtain this opportunity of experiment- 
ing on a large scale with his theory of perfect expansion of gases 
when applied to the steam engine. With the Idaho the Bureau of 
Steam Engineering had nothing to do, the contract for hull and 
machinery complete being made by the Bureau of Construction in 
May, 1863, with Paul L. Forbes and E. N. Dickerson, the contract 
price being $600,000. The hull was built by the famous ship- 
builder, Steers, of New York, and the machinery by the Morgan 
Iron Works from designs prepared by Mr. Dickerson; there were 
two pairs of engines driving twin screws, the cylinders having the 
very remarkable dimensions for marine engines of eight feet stroke 
and thirty inches diameter. The Idaho was 298 feet long, 44£ feet 
beam, and of 3,240 tons displacement. 

John Ericsson also availed himself of this opportunity to try 
engineering conclusions with Engineer-in-Chief Isherwood. It was 


, JHI 

p -s 



arranged that two ships exactly alike should be built, one to be 
fitted with Isherwood's engines and the other with Ericsson's. The 
ships were the Madawaslea and Wampanoagr, built side by side in 
the Brooklyn navy yard by that master-builder, Naval Constructor 
B. F. Delano; they were 335 feet long, 45.2 feet beam, 4,200 tons 
displacement, and rated at 3,281 tons burden. Their boilers and 
all auxiliaries were the same. Isherwood's engines consisted of a 
pair of cylinders 100 inches in diameter and four feet stroke, 
arranged by means of huge wood-toothed gear wheels to make one 
double stroke of the piston for every 2.04 revolutions of the pro- 
peller shaft. Ericsson's cylinders were the same in number and 
dimensions as Isherwood's, but their arrangement was according to 
his patented vibrating lever type, connecting directly with the shaft. 
Ericsson's engines for the Madawaska were built at the Allaire Iron 
Works, New York, and Isherwood's for the Wawvpanoag at the 
Novelty Iron Works in the same city, the contract price in each 
case being $700,000. 

Still another ship entered into this competition for speed was the 
Chattanooga by the Cramp & Sons Ship Building Co. of Philadel- 
phia, which firm built the hull at their own yard and obtained the 
machinery by sub-contract from Merrick & Sons. The Chattanooga 
had a pair of back-acting engines, 84 inches diameter by 42 inch 
stroke, and 980 square feet of grate surface; her length was 315 feet; 
breadth 46 feet, and displacement 3,040 tons. The contract price 
for the vessel complete was $600,000. The three other cruisers not 
yet mentioned were the Pomponoosuc, Ammonoosuc, and Neshammy, 
all of which had Isherwood engines precisely like those of the Wam- 
panoag, and which cost $700,000 for each of the first two named and 
$680,000 for the Neshammy. The machinery for the Pomponoosuc 
was built by the Corliss Steam Engine Co. of Providence, Rhode Is- 
land; that for the Ammonoosuc by George Quintard at the Morgan 
Iron Works, New York, and that for the Neshammy by John Koach, 
New York. The Ammonoosuc was built at the Boston Navy Yard 
and the Neshaminy at the Philadelphia navy yard, these two being 
sister ships, and of about 4,000 tons displacement each. The Pom- 
ponoosuc was somewhat larger than the other two, but was never 
completed: under the name of Connecticut she stood in frame on the 
stocks at the Boston navy yard for many years and was finally broken 



up. The completion and speed trials of these cruisers did not occur 
until some time after the close of the war; the trials of some of them 
demonstrated a new possibility in war-ship building and were the 
occasion for one of the most remarkable professional triumphs ever 
achieved by an engineer, for which reasons the subject will be taken 
up in detail hereafter. 

Towards the end of the year it was decided to build four double- 
turreted monitors to be heavily armed and armored and adapted to 
ocean cruising; battle-ships, in fact. These were big vessels (5,660 
tons displacement) with big names — Qmnsigamond, Passaconawaj, 
Kalamazoo, and Shackamaxon. The hulls were put under construc- 
tion at four different navy yards, wood being used, and all deck- 
plating, side armor, turrets, etc., obtained by contract with iron 
masters. In December the Bureau of Steam Engineering made con- 
tracts for theii machinery, the contract price for that for the Quinsi- 
gamond and Kalamazoo being $580,000 each, and $590,000 eachfor 
the other two. The contracts called for twin screws, each screw shaft 
to be actuated by a pair of direct-acting horizontal engines with cyl- 
inders 46^ inches in diameter and 50 inches stroke; horizontal tubu- 
lar boilers of not less than 900 square feet of grate surface for each 
vessel were specified. Designs for this machinery were furnished 
the contractors by Mr. John Baird, engineer, of New York city. 
None of the hulls were ever completed, but under changed names 
they stood on the stocks for a number of years and were eventually 
broken up. The following table shows the place of building of the 
ships and machinery: 




Quinsigamond, (Oregou).. 

Fassaconoway, (Mass.) 

Kalamazoo, (Colossus) 

Shackamaxon, (Nebraska) 

Boston Navy Yard. 
Kittery Navy Yard. 
New York Navy Yard. 
Philadelphia Navy Yard. 

Atlantic Works, Boston, 
Delamater Iron Works, N. Y 

Pusey , Jones & Co. Wil'n Del. 

In November of this year Mr. Isherwood entered into a con- 
tract with the Atlantic Works of Boston for a complete outfit of 
machinery for the big frigate Franklin, still unfinished at the 
Kittery navy yard. The contract called for a pair of back-acting 


engines with cylinders 68 inches in diameter and 42 inches stroke; 
four vertical water- tube boilers; two superheating boilers; a Se well's 
surface condenser, and a detachable hoisting screw. The contract 
price was $440,000. 

Under the old naval organization the ranks of line officers as 
established by law were, midshipman, master, lieutenant, com- 
mander, and captain. Staff officers held assimilated rank with these 
up to the rank of commander, as directed by Secretary Toucey's 
order of January 13, 1859. In 1862, as has been noted, the line 
ranks were increased by adding commodore and rear admiral at the 
top and inserting the intermediate ranks of ensign and lieutenant- 
commander, no change in the assimilated rank of the staff being 
made at that time. To remedy the practical reduction in rank of 
the staff thus occasioned the Secretary of the Navy issued an order, 
dated March 13, 1863, re-grading the relative rank of the staff 
corps, that part of the order especially interesting to engineers read- 
ing as follows: 

"Third Assistant Engineers to rank with Midshipmen. 

' ' Second Assistant Engineers to rank with Ensigns. 

'•'■First Assistant Engineers to rank with Masters. 

" Chief Engineers to rank with Lieutenant Commanders for the 
first five years after promotion ; after the first five years, with Com- 
manders; and after fifteen years date of commission, to rank with 

"Fleet Engineer to rank with the Captain. 

''The Fleet Captain to be called the 'Chief of Staff,' and to 
take precedence of the Staff Officers of every grade. 

' ' Chiefs of Bweaux of the Staff Corps to rank with Commo- 
dores, and to take precedence of eacn other according to their dates 
of commission as Surgeons, Paymasters, Naval Constructors, and 
Engineers, and not according to the date of appointment as Fleet 
Officer, or Chief of Bureau. 

'■'■Fleet Staff Officers to take precedence of Executive Officers." 

August 11th, 1863, the Navy Department issued a circular 
directing that thereafter no more appointments of engineers for act- 
ing or volunteer service should be made until the applicant had 
passed satisfactory examinations before the chief engineer and 


surgeon of the navy yard where application for appointment wag 

The following is an extract from a general order issued by the 
department under date of September 16, 1863: 

"Engineers will hereafter understand that the condition of the 
machinery under their charge on the arrival of the vessel from a 
cruise will be considered as a test of their efficiency and fidelity in 
the discharge of their duties; and that the result of the examination 
then made will determine whether they have discharged their duties 
in such manner as to deserve commendation, or have been so grossly 
negligent or incompetent as to render their expulsion from the 
service an act of justice to the public." 

On the 22nd of December a new schedule of examinations for 
promotion of engineers in the regular service was promulgated by 
circular order, the standard being raised considerably above the 
requirements of the regulation on the subject issued in 1859. This 
order was specified to apply temporarily only, during the war, and 
to the examination of engineers in the squadrons. 


Of entrance to a quarrel ; but being in, 
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee." 

Hamlet: Act 1, Sc. 3. 

1863— The Civil War, Continued — Controversy as to the Efficiency of Iron-Clads — 
Bear Admiral DuPont Beports Adversely to Them — Chief Engineer Stimers 
Beports in Their Favor — Bear Admiral DuPont Prefers Charges Against Chief 
Engineer Stimers — The Case Investigated by a Court of Inquiry. — Vindication 
of Mr. Stimers. 

THIS history of the steam ships and engineers of the American 
navy would be incomplete without some reference to an 
internal strife in the service in the year 1863, growing out of the 
introduction of mastless war- vessels; a controversy that produced 
much ill feeling at the time, and one that would gladly be passed 
over in silence were it not for the fact that it was a matter of 
national interest and importance while it lasted and reduced itself to 
a clean-cut issue between the old and the new. It was in fact a 
struggle for existence almost on the part of the engineers and their 
machinery, opposed by the older, more picturesque, and more con. 
servative sentiments that had formed the traditions and institutions 
of the old navy and sought to preserve them unchanged, regardless 
of the progress in all other things being effected through the agency 
of the steam engine. 

The attack made upon Fort Sumter April 7th by Rear Admiral 
DuPont with a squadron of iron-clads has been described in a 
former chapter, and the fact that the Navy Department expected 
unqualified success from these vessels has been mentioned. Great, 
therefore, was the disappointment in Washington when DuPont's 
report of the engagement arrived with his announcement that he 
had determined not to renew the attack, as in his judgment it would 
convert a failure into a disaster. In a later report he enlarged upon 
what he considered the bad qualities of the monitors and said they 
could not be depended upon for protection against the armored 


vessels the Confederates were known to be fitting out at Charleston. 
It is possible that an element of distrust entered into the disappoint- 
ment felt in Washington, for immediately after the receipt of the 
news from Charleston President Lincoln telegraphed DuPont to hold 
his position inside the bar near Charleston, or to return to it if he 
had left it and hold it until further orders. Beginning in this way 
a correspondence was opened between Rear Admiral DuPont and the 
Navy Department, gradually increasing in acerbity, and terminat- 
ing in the admiral being relieved of his command and deprived of 
any further participation in the war. 

The whole story of this affair was given to the public more than 
thirty years ago by the publication in book form, by virtue of a 
joint resolution of Congress, of five thousand copies of the docu- 
ments in the case together with other interesting letters and reports 
relating to armored vessels. In the present chapter the author will 
confine himself almost entirely to the records as preserved in 
the public form referred to, not being disposed to enter upon 
any expression of his own views as to the motives and interests 

Chief Engineer Alban C. Stimers, as the general inspector of 
all iron-clad vessels of the Ericsson type built or building for the 
government, made frequent visits to the fleet off Charleston for pur- 
poses of examination and to direct repairs in case of damage. He 
was present at the first attack on Fort Sumter and made a visit of 
inspection to each of the monitors immediately after they came out 
of action. Returning to his office in New York a few days later 
he made, on the 14th of April, a detailed and critical report to the 
Secretary of the Navy of the result of his observations, his views 
as to the offensive and defensive properties of the monitors being 
very favorable to them and quite at variance with the opinions 
expressed in Rear Admiral DuPont's despatches. For this he was 
thereafter involved in the growing controversy and appeared in it to 
excellent advantage as the defender of the new type of war ship. 
Besides exercising an oversight upon the iron-clads, he had 
attempted while at Charleston on this occasion to induce the authori- 
ties to use an "obstruction remover" invented by Ericsson and with 
which Stimers had made some satisfactory experiments in the still 
waters of New York harbor. This was a huge raft, called by the 


sailors a "boot-jack" on the account of its form, intended to be 
pushed by. a monitor and carrying an enormous elongated shell or 
torpedo at its forward edge designed to destroy by explosion any 
piling or other obstacles that might be encountered. Mr. Stimers 
referred with much regret in his report to the lack of success he had 
had in trying to convince the naval captains of the utility of this 
invention. It received a fair enough trial from Captain John 
Rodgers of the Weehawken soon afterward and was found so unman- 
ageable in the rough water in which it had to operate that it may 
be put down as one of Ericsson's inventions that was more success- 
ful on a sheet of drawing paper than it was in actual practice afloat. 
Chief Engineer E. D. Robie, one of the most ingenious and capable 
engineers of the war period, was diverted from his regular duty as 
resident inspector of the building of the Dictator to go to Charles- 
ton to try to make this torpedo raft a success, and his failure to do 
bo is good proof that it was impracticable. 

On the 22nd of April Eear Admiral DuPont sent a long letter 
to the Navy Department complaining most bitterly of an account 
of the battle of April 7th which had been published in a Baltimore 
newspaper and in which it was stated that the weapons at DuPont's 
disposal were not used to advantage through disinclination induced 
by a dislike to Ericsson and his naval innovations. The complaint 
closed with the statement that the newspaper mentioned "seems to 
have had its own hostile proclivities heightened by an association 
with an officer of the service whose name appears frequently and 
prominently in its report in connexion with the repairs upon the 
iron-clads and in relation to the torpedoes and the rafts; I mean 
Mr. A. C. Stimers, a chief engineer in the naval service of the 
United States. ' ' The reply of Secretary Welles to this letter re- 
minded the rear admiral that the press of the country had been 
generally lenient and indulgent toward him, and the censures, under 
a great disappointment, had been comparatively few. It told him 
that his suspicions regarding Mr. Stimers did that officer much in- 
justice, and concluded with the comment : 

"It has not appeared to me necessary to your justification that 
the powers of assault or resistance of our iron-clad vessels should be 
deprecated, and I regret that there should have been any labored 
effort for that purpose." 


Rear Admiral DuPont replied at much length to this letter, 
making an especial point of objecting to the use of the word "len- 
ient" as applicable to the opinions entertained by the public toward 
him; and so the matter went on; every letter written by each of 
the distinguished gentlemen tending more and more to estrange 
them. On the 22nd of May the Department sent the rear admiral 
an item cut from a Charleston newspaper in which it was stated that 
the guns of the Keokuk had been removed by the Confederates and 
taken to Charleston, and requested information regarding it. 
DuPont replied curtly that he knew nothing of it other than the 
statement of the newspaper; that he had little doubt of its truth; 
that the work must have been done in the night, and that he had 
offered Chief Engineer Eobie every facility to blow up the Keokuk, 
with Mr. Ericsson's raft, but that officer found it too dangerous to 
use. This called forth an equally curt retort from Secretary Welles, 
who wrote, " The duty of destroying the Keokuk, and preventing 
her guns from falling into the hands of the rebels, devolved upon 
the commander-in-chief rather than on Engineer Eobie. I do not 
understand that the operations were necessarily limited to Mr. 
Ericsson's raft, of which such apprehensions appear to have been 
entertained. The wreck and its important armament ought not to 
have been abandoned to the rebels, whose sleepless labors appear to 
have secured them a valuable prize." 

In the latter part of June Eear Admiral Andrew H. Foote, 
who had achieved such success while commanding the Mississippi 
flotilla, was ordered to relieve DuPont, but being seized with a 
fatal illness the orders were transferred to Eear Admiral John A. 
Dahlgren, who took over the command of the South Atlantic block- 
ading squadron on the 6 th of July from DuPont, who was placed 
on waiting orders. The protracted siege of the Charleston forts at 
once inaugurated by Dahlgren has already been described. 

Previous to this, on the 12th of May, Eear Admiral DuPont 
had requested the Navy Department to arrest Chief Engineer 
Stimers and send him to Charleston to be tried on the following 
charges : 

Charges and Specifications of Charges Preferred hy Bear Admiral 
Samuel F. DuPont, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading 


Squadron, against Chief Engineer Allan C. Stimers, United 
States Nam/. 

Charge First : Falsehood. 

" Specification. — In this: that between the eleventh and fif- 
teenth days of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, the said 
Alban 0. Stimers, a chief engineer in the United States navy, being 
then on board the steamship Arago, by the authority and direction 
of Hear Admiral Samuel F. DuPont, commanding the South Atlan- 
tic blockading squadron — the said Arago being on her passage from 
PortEoyal, South Carolina, to New York City, via Charleston bar — 
did, at the table of said steamer, in the presence of officers of said 
steamer and other persons, a number of whom were correspondents 
of the public press, and at divers other times during the passage of 
said steamer, falsely assert, knowing the same to be untruis, that he 
was told by one or more of the commanders of the iron-clad vessels 
engaged in the attack upon the forts and batteries in Charleston 
harbor, on the seventh day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty- 
three, that the attack of that day ought to have been renewed; and 
that they did further state to him that the said iron-clad vessels 
were in fit condition to renew it; and the said Alban C. Stimers did 
further falsely assert, knowing the same to be untrue, that several 
of the commanders of the said iron-clad vessels had said to him in 
his presence and hearing that they, the said commanders, were, 
after the attack aforesaid, ' hot for renewing the engagement,' or 
words to that effect. 

" Charge Second: Conduct unbecoming an officer of the navy. 

" Specification. — In this: that between the eleventh and fif- 
teenth days of April eighteen hundred and sixty-three, the said 
Alban C. Stimers, a chief engineer in the United States navy, being 
then on board the steamship Arago, by the authority and direction 
of Hear Admiral S. F. DuPont, commanding South Atlantic block- 
ading squadron — the said Arago being on her passage from Port 
Royal, South Carolina, to New York City via Charleston bar — did, 
at the table of said steanier, in the presence of officers of the said 
steamer and other persons, a number of whom were correspondents 


of the public press, and at divers other times during the passag< 
the said steamer, with the intent to disparage and injure the j 
fessional reputation of his superior officer, Hear Admiral S. 
DuPont, criticise and condemn, in terms unbecoming the circi 
stances and his position as an officer of the navy, the professio 
conduct of his superior officer, Rear Admiral S. F. DuPont, in 
attack upon the forts and batteries in Charleston harbor onthesi 
enth day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, and did, w 
the like intent, knowingly make false statements, using, amo 
other improper and unfounded expressions, words in substance 
follows: ' That the monitors were in as good condition on Wedn 
day, the eighth day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-thr 
after they had undergone some slight repairs, to renew the 
tack, as they had been to commence it the day before; that tl 
could go into Charleston in spite of guns, torpedoes, and obstr 
tions, and that Hear Admiral DuPont was too much prejudii 
against the monitors to give them a fair trial. ' 

Instead of sending the accused officer to DuPont for trial 
court-martial the department convened a court of inquiry at 
Brooklyn navy yard to investigate the truth of the charges and 
port regarding them. This court was composed of Eear Adm 
Francis H. Gregory, Eear Admiral Silas H. Stringham, and C< 
modore William C. Nicholson, all old and distinguished offici 
but by training and professional associations more apt to lean 
wards DuPont's side of the issue than to feel any sympathy 
Stimers and the mechanical innovations represented by him. 
Edwin M. Stoughton was named as judge advocate, but that g 
tleman refused to act, and appeared in the case as counsel 
Stimers. Judge Edward Pierrepont of New York was next 
pointed judge advocate, and he too refused to accept the ofl 
which was then conferred upon Mr. Hiram L. Sleeper. ' 
list of witnesses named by the prosecution included the officers 
a number of passengers of the Arago and the commanders 
some other officers of the rron-clads off Charleston. 

The court met at the Marine Barracks, Brooklyn, June 
and continued in session for more than four months, with si 
lengthy adjournments to allow of the taking of testimony of 


nesses on duty with the fleet at Charleston, which was done by 
means of written interrogatories and cross-interrogatories according 
to the terms of a formal stipulation between the judge advocate and 
the counsel for the accused which was spread on the pages of the 
record. The testimony presented by the prosecution was generally 
favorable to Mr. Stimers and failed to substantiate the charges and 
specifications made against him. As printed in the public document 
before referred to as the source of information for the facts pre- 
sented in this chapter it is too long to admit of an analytical review 
in this place, which review is therefore omitted in favor of the care- 
ful one made by Chief Engineer Stimers in his written defense ; a 
most manly and straightforward argument which was submitted to 
the court on the 19th of October and is here reproduced in full : 

"May itplease this honorable court: ^s*-.*ma*~- , 

" The testimony introduced by .the Judge Advocate to sustain the 
charges made against me by Rear Admiral DuPont is now closed. 
Acting in view of the proof thus placed before the court I deem it 
wholly unnecessary to offer evidence in reply. The very foundation 
on which these charges must rest is wanting, and hardly an attempt 
has been made to supply it. They were carelessly, if not recklessly, 
made by a high officer of the Government, willing to give them the 
sanction of his name, apparently without inquiring whether they 
were capable of proof, or founded upon worthless rumor. Much 
time has been uselessly spent in apparent efforts to prove them; 
but anyone attentively .reading the evidence discovers that the 
real purpose has been not to establish the charges in question, but 
to justify their author in failing effectively to use the formidable 
means for destroying the defences of Charleston, which our Govern- 
ment in its confidence and hope had lavished upon him. That I 
am not unjust or uncharitable in making this suggestion will be 
manifest from an examination of the charges and proof which I will 
now proceed to make. ' ' 

' '1st. The first specification charges me with having, whilst on 
board the steamer Arago, on her voyage from Charleston to New 
York, at table, in presence of her officers and other persons, a 


number of whom were correspondents of the public press, fals 
asserted, knowing the same to be untrue, that I was told by one 
or more of the commanders of the iron-clads engaged in the att: 
on Charleston that it ought to have been renewed; that the vest 
were in a fit condition to renew it; and that several of the co 
manders had said to me that they were hot for renewing I 

"A person observant of Christian precepts, considerate of ] 
duty towards a fellow man, or actuated by self respect, woul 
before deliberately framing a charge calculated to consign a brotl 
officer to disgrace and infamy, have inquired carefully into its tru 
and the means of establishing it. Indeed, he would hardly ha 
been content to make it before conversing personally with th< 
capable of proving it; and then a just man would have withheld I 
accusation, so painful for a gentleman to bear, until satisfied tl 
his witnesses were entitled to full credit. The course which i 
accuser has seen fit to pursue presents a wide departure from 1 
path thus indicated. The names of persons who were on board 1 
Arago during the voyage were appended as witnesses to the charj 
made, and most of them have been examined. It appears tha 
sat at the public table of the steamer in the immediate neighborhc 
of several other persons, all no doubt accessible to my accuser, 
to those seeking to support the charges. If, therefore, I, duri 
the voyage, used the language imputed to me, it was susceptible 
easy proof. Not a particle of testimony to that effect has, howev 
been furnished. No one pretends I ever said that any commam 
of the iron-clads had stated to me either that the attack on Charl 
ton ought to have been renewed, or that the iron-clads were in a 
condition to do so, or that their commanders were hot for renew 
the engagement. No language bearing the least resemblance to t 
charged is proven to have been uttered by me at any time ; and I 
bound to assume that neither of the witnesses named ever sta 
otherwise than they have sworn here. If not, then upon what 
formation could the charges in qnestion have been framed ? Was 
believed that they could be proven ? And if not, were they wa 
only made, so that upon pretense of sustaining them, the na 
inactivity, painful to a whole nation, might be iustified by pr 


quite irrelevant to the charges being tried, and therefore quite likely 
to pass uncontradicted by me ? 

"2d. The second charge made against me is for conduct unbe- 
coming an officer of the navy, and specifies, in substance, that at 
the table of said steamei , and elsewhere on board of her, during the 
passage, I criticised and condemned, in terms unbecoming the cir- 
cumstances, the professional conduct of Rear Admiral DuPont, by 
stating that the monitors were in as good condition on the 8th day 
of April, 1863, after they had undergone some slight repairs, to 
renew the attack, as they had been to commence it the day before. 
That they could go into Charleston in spite of guns, torpedoes 
and obstructions; but that Admiral DuPont was too much pre- 
judiced against the monitors to give them a fair trial. 

' ' Now if, under the circumstances, I had stated all that is 
charged, it would, in my judgment, have been no more than I was 
authorized to say. I had been charged by the government with the 
important duty of inspecting the construction and armament of the 
vessels whilst they were being made. They were new in the history 
of the world; but in the contest between the Monitor and Merrimao 
although the latter on the day previous had defied a fleet of our 
largest frigates, carrying an armament fifty times greater than the 
Monitor, destroying some and threatening all with the same fate, 
yet the Monitor, working her two eleven inch guns behind an invul- 
nerable shield, tested her powers, offensive and defensive, by so 
terrible an ordeal that intelligent and unprejudiced men here and in 
Europe from that hour saw that naval supremacy must be main- 
tained, if at all, by abandoning wooden ships and adopting those 
which the genius, engineering skill, and ripe, practical knowledge 
of their author had taught the world how to construct. My know- 
ledge of this class of war vessels had been acquired not only by 
watching and inspecting their construction step by step, but under 
the orders of the government I had enjoyed the good fortune of 
participating in the contest to which I have referred, and which had 
developed the capacity of the Monitor system to sustain unharmed 
the fire of heavy guns at short range, and at the same time to in- 
flict deadly injuries upon an adversary's ship of great power heavily 


sheathed in iron. With an experience thus gained I might, as 
think, have justly claimed the right to express an opinion as to 1 
value and capacities of the monitors, even had this differed from 1 
views entertained by Hear Admiral DuPont, whose knowledge cc 
cerning them was probably derived from casual inspection and t 
reports of others. Moreover, I was charged by the Governing 
with the duty of proceeding to Charleston to watch and report t 
performance of these vessels in action, to assist in maintaining the 
in readiness for battle, and afford to the officers having them 
charge such information as might be needful. 

"In addition to all this it may here be proper to say that al 
great expense shells had been devised by Captain Ericsson, 1 
author of the Monitor system, which, in connexion with rafts to 
attached to the bows of vessels, were to be used for removing 
means of explosive force, obstructions within the harbor, and 
firing torpedoes supposed to be sunk by the enemy in the track 
our advancing fleet. The effectiveness of these shells had been 
tested by me, before they were sent to Admiral DuPont, as to mi 
it clear to my mind and to that of the government that they wo 
be practically safe and capable of clearing the track of battle, 
strongly urged Admiral DuPont to use these shells, and reques 
permission to participate in the action of the 7th, on board a mc 
tor which should be thus armed. The privilege was denied to i 
and although in view of supposed obstructions, I had expressed 
Admiral DuPont and to his officers the opinion that the monil 
could successfully pass them, my confidence in expressing it ■ 
greatly strengthened by, and somewhat founded upon, the assui 
tion that these shells were to be employed, and this the Adm 
knew. He nevertheless declined to order their employment 
thus was lost to the government and nation a powerful means 
penetrating to the cradle of this great rebellion. 

"Under these circumstances, and well aware that the gov< 
ment had expected much from the attack upon Charleston with 
abundant means furnished to the rear admiral commanding, I 
greatly disappointed that the important instruments I have men tic 
were not used by him, especially as I believed (an as an earnes 
my conviction had offered to hazard my life and limb) that ' 


shells attached to the monitors they could pass all obstructions and 
hold the city of Charleston at their mercy. 

"All this was certainly calculated to awaken in my mind criti- 
cism upon the conduct of Bear Admiral Dupont, which, as the evidence 
shows, I refrained from expressing, maintaining a reserve, not merely 
respectful to him, but calculated to defend him from the censures 
freely and openly cast upon him for failing to renew the attack of 
the 7th of April. 

' ' I will now briefly examine the proof introduced to maintain 
the second charge, the mere reading of which will show that even if 
I had said all that is charged against me, it was but the statement 
of views which, if honest, I had a right in common with all other 
persons to express. Entertaining the opinion, and officially report- 
ing it as I did to Kear Admiral DuPont, that the monitors were on 
the 8th substantially, for practical purposes, as fit to renew the attack 
as they had been to make it on the day previous. 1 was bound 
neither by courtesy nor by any rule of the service with which I am 
acquainted, to withhold or conceal it; and believing, as I certainly 
did, that the monitors, with the rafts and shells attached, could have 
gone into Charleston in spite of guns, torpedoes and obstructions, I 
was equally entitled to state, in respectful language, that opinion 
also; and, moreover, I think the disrespect, if there be any, in im- 
puting to Kear Admiral DuPont prejudice against the monitors, was 
so slight that his self-respect can hardly have been increased by 
noticing it. Indeed, whilst there is no proof in the case that I ever 
charged him with entertaining this prejudice, and whilst by assert- 
ing that I did, he, by implication at least, denies the existence of 
the prejudice so imputed, the evidence introduced on his behalf very 
clearly established that he was prepossessed against them, for Cap- 
tain Drayton in substance declares he don't think Admiral DuPont 
had a high opinion of the monitors, and that he could not have had 
after reading his (Drayton's) reports concerning them, made before the 

" What these reports were does not appear, but that the witness 
believed he had succeeded in instilling into the admiral's mind his 
own unfavorable opinion is quite clear. 

"The proof, however, fails to show that I made the statement 
charged against me. The evidence on this subject consists of the 


testimony of Captain Gadsden, of the Arago, and of several other 
persons who were on board of that steamer during her voyage from 
Charleston to New York. He says in substance that I stated that 
the monitors had received no serious injury; that they could be re- 
paired in a few hours; that the trial ought not to condemn them; that 
they had not had a fair trial ; that with the shells attached to them 
they could go in. He further swore that I said the officers of the 
navy were prejudiced against the monitors, but that I mentioned no 
one in particular, and did not reflect upon Admiral DuPont. 

" The purser of the Arago testified that I said the officers of the 
navy were rather prejudiced against them, but that I spoke of Ad- 
miral DuPont personally in the highest terms. Mr. Colwell swore 
that those on board the Arago were much excited about the fight at 
Charleston, and condemned the admiral for his failure; but he did not 
intimate that I took part in such conversation, stating only that I 
said the monitors were very little injured, and were repaired in about 
five hours; that I was respectful in my remarks concerning Admiral 

DuPont: and although this witness said he at one time was under 
the impression that I had said the admiral was prejudiced against 

the monitors, he afterwards stated that I might not have said so, but 
that as the passengers generally united in condemning him, the wit- 
ness may have confounded their statements with mine. 

"Mr. Fulton, in his testimony, states that my conversations 
with him on the subject of the attack were private, and in an under- 
tone, and that I said I had sometimes retired to my stateroom to 
avoid being questioned; that I said the attack was not an earnest 
one, and expressed disappointment that the shells were not employed, 
but did not say the monitors could have entered the harbor without 
them, nor that the admiral was prejudiced against the monitors, but 
that I did say he would have renewed the attack but for the influ- 
ence of some of those who were. 

" Mr. Mars, a passenger, testified that I appeared not to wish 
to speak on the subject of the attack, and that although he sat op- 
posite to me at the table, he did not hear me say that the admiral 
was prejudiced. 

1 ' Having thus failed to prove that I had uttered any of the 

language as charged, and it appearing upon the evidence that I had 

spoken of Eear Admiral DuPont in high terms, studiously refraining 


from talking upon the subject of the attack, it appeared to me 
remarkable that the prosecution, instead of acknowledging the in- 
justice of these charges, should persist in calling witnesses to prove 
that the monitors were seriously injured in their attack upon the 
forts, and could not have renewed it without probable disaster. 

" Whilot this attempt has signally failad, it has nevertheless 
disclosed the real purpose of this prosecution to have been, not an 
inquiry into any language or conduct of mine, but, under that pre- 
text, an effort to justify the failure by Eear Admiral DuPont, which 
had attracted the observation of the world, by condemning as inade- 
quate the instruments which a liberal government had placed in his 

" His desire to justify himself was natural, but that he should 
have been willing to achieve even his own vindication by making 
and persisting in prosecuting unfounded charges against a brother 
officer, is extraordinary. How utterly he has failed to accomplish 
this a brief examination of the proofs will show. 

" It appears from these that before the attack was made it was 
supposed by Admiral DuPont that torpedoes had been placed in the 
channel along which his fleet must pass. That network had been 
suspended from buoys designed to entangle the propellers and thus 
prevent their action, and that for some purpose piles had been placed 
across the middle ground to obstruct the entrance of monitors from 
that direction. It moreover appears, especially from a careful read- 
ing of the deposition of Commander C. R. P. Rodgers, the admiral's 
fleet captain, that no additional information upon either of these sub- 
jects was obtained by means of the attack. After that was over, the 
existence of torpedoes, of network and the purpose of the piles were 
shrouded in the same mystery as before. It was ascertained, how- 
ever, that if torpedoes lurked in the channel, they were probably 
harmless, for none had been exploded; and that they were incapable 
of being fired is shown by the letter referred to by this witness, 
written by a rebel officer in Fort Sumter, stating that the effort to 
explode a torpedo whilst directly under the hull of the Ironsides had 


" We must therefore accept it as established, that as no infor- 
mation was obtained during the conflict which could be used to 
strengthen the surmises before existing as to the character of these 


obstructions, their supposed existence could not have afforded ground 
for declining to renew the engagement which was not equally good 
as an objection against having made it at all; and this being so, we 
must look for some other reason for the failure of the admiral to offer 
battle on the 8th, in pursuance of his declared intention, when he 
gave the signal for the monitors to haul off on the previous day. 

" It is true that some of this testimony conveys the impression 
that the fear of encountering these supposed obstructions was a con- 
trolling element in the admiral's mind in forming the determination 
not to renew the attack; but in this there is evident mistake, for a 
brave and intelligent commander would hardly be so fearM of ob- 
structions which might or might not be real, as to abandon a great 
enterprise without practical effort to learn whether obstacles to its 
achievement existed or not. Against such a suspicion I feel disposed 
to defend Admiral DuPont, and hence am constrained to look else- 
where for some reason why he failed to renew an attack which, if 
persisted in, might have succeeded. His witnesses on this subject 
next point to the injuries sustained by the monitors, and to their 
alleged inability to withstand a repetition of the terrible fire to which 
they were subjected on the 7th. A glance at the testimony will show 
how utterly unfounded is this effort at an excuse, whilst it will also 
establish to the satisfaction of intelligent and unprejudiced men that 
the capacity of the monitors to resist unharmed the most terrible fire 
from guns and rifles of the heaviest calibre, has never been overstated. 
It appears from the testimony of the fleet captain that the fire to 
which they were exposed was by far more terrific than that which he 
or anyone connected with the fleet had ever before seen. From fifty 
to one hundred rebel guns, of heavier calibre than were ever before 
employed against ships-of-war, were brought to bear upon the moni- 
tors at the same time, and probably many more. The Patapsco was 
struck by fifty-one shots, twenty-one of which hit the turret, and fif- 
teen or more of these — all heavy ball — struck it within the period of 
five minutes, and yet at 8:30 o'clock on the evening of the 7th she 
was in a fit condition to renew the engagement. 

The Nantucket was struck fifty-three times ; and although the 
mechanism which worked her XV-inch gun was disordered, this was 
repaired on the 8th. Captain Drayton states that the top of the 
pilot house of the Passaic was raised up by a shot, but it is quite evi- 


dent, from his account of it, that this in no manner disabled the ves- 
sel, whilst it hardly increased the chances of danger to those within. 
It sufficiently appears that the Weehawken was fit to have renewed 
the engagement on the following day, although she was struck sev- 
eral times on her side armor in nearly the same place. 

' ' Without following this subject further in detail, it is sufficient 
to state, what appears from the proof, that each and all of the moni- 
tors were in fighting condition within twenty-four hours after they 
came out of battle, whilst the injuries received by them were so tri- 
fling, when the terrible means employed for inflicting them were con- 
sidered, that they may be pronounced substantially invulnerable to 
the strongest artillery. But one life was lost on board of them dur- 
ing the conflict ; and whilst one or two of the turrets were by the im- 
pact of shot partially prevented from turning until repaired, it should 
be remembered that, turning by their rudders, each could at all times 
present her guns to the enemy at pleasure. Indeed, it was partly by 
this means that the guns of the Monitor were brought to bear on the 
Merrimac in that first engagement of ironclads to which I have be- 
fore referred. One of the witnesses has suggested that if other shots 
had struck in the same place as previous ones, the armor might have 
been endangered. Entertaining, as I do, the opposite opinion, I 
would suggest that even if the witness was correct, he anticipates a 
hazard too remote to be much apprehended : for it is well known that 
the chances that one shot will strike exactly where a previous one 
had hit, are very slight. 

" The Keokuk, an ironclad vessel, but not built upon the plan 
of the monitors, was almost immediately disabled, having fired but 
three guns at the enemy; and the Ironsides, a much stronger and 
better armed ship, although she escaped serious injury, no doubt 
owed this to the temporary means employed to strengthen her before 
going into action, and to the care exercised in keeping her at a great 
distance from the enemy's guns. 

" That this distance was maintained is apparent from the testi- 
mony of the fleet captain, who stated in substance, that when the 
order was signalled for the monitors to retire from the conflict they 
all passed the Ironsides in moving out. This shows that .they were 
inside of her and much closer to the enemy's batteries ; and how 
much nearer may be inferred from his cross-examination, in which he 


states that twenty minutes may have elapsed before the last of the 
monitors passed by. They engaged the batteries within six hundred 
yards, and it need hardly be suggested, that no ship not constructed 
upon their plan could have lived under the heavy fire to which, at 
that distance, they were subjected. 

I here close what I have thought it well to say concerning this 
attempt by Kear. Admiral DuPont to justify his inaction and failure 
by attacking that system of war vessels which has already, in my 
opinion, given us a more effective fleet than is possessed by any 
other nation. A judicious use of these vessels might have transmit- 
ted his name with honor far into the future. An assault upon the 
system can but recoil upon the assailant. From me it needs no de- 
fense. Time and battle will but confirm the opinions I have ex- 
pressed concerning it, whilst its adoption by the nations of the world 
will bear unfailing testimony to the great skill and foresight of its 

" With these remarks I submit my case to the just consideratio* 
of this honorable Court. ( 

" Yery respectfully, 

(Signed) " Alban C. Stimeks ; 

" Chief Engineer, United States Navy. 
"Naval Lyceum, New York, October 19, 1863." 

The next day, October 20, the court met for its last session and 
added the following finding to its record : 

" The court having diligently and fully inquired into the mat- 
ters embraced in the specifications of charges in this case, hereby re- 
port that, in their opinion, there is no necessity or propriety for fur- 
ther proceedings in the case." 

Rear Admiral DuPont was an eminent and capable naval officer 
of the old school, but of too long service and of too fixed ideas to 
yield before a development that entirely upset all the naval methods 
of his lifetime, and by standing in the way of the march of progress, 
instead of gracefully stepping aside and admitting the competence 
of a mechanical generation, he was run over and humiliated by a 
power more potent than he had imagined. In a time of peace when 
the public is indifferent to the navy and its advancement the con- 


servative opinions of its veteran officers usually prevail and prevent 
changes in methods or material that involve any great departure 
from -what has existed so long as to become custom, but in time of 
war sentiment and dogma must yield to practical utility, and the 
irresistible power of public opinion will always force this submission. 
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Fox, was from his own training 
probably the most competent official connected with the Navy De- 
partment during the war to judge of the characteristics of the 
officers of the navy. In a letter written by him to John Ericsson 
in 1864 he summed up in the following manner the actual attitude 
of Bear Admiral DuPont towards the new iron-clad war-vessels : 

"He is of a wooden age, eminent in that, but in an engineer- 
ing age behind the time. You were always opposed to attacking 
forts, but DuPont deBpised the vessels and the brain that conceived 

The " old school " of navalism means a great deal unknown to 
the officers of the present generation if all the testimony of the past 
may be depended upon. A very curious condition of affairs was 
allowed to grow up in our navy during that long period of compara- 
tive inactivity, interrupted only by the Mexican War, which inter- 
vened between the end of the last war with Great Britain and the 
outbreak of the rebellion. " The commodore of the period was an 
august personage who went to sea in a great flag-ship, surrounded 
by a conventional grandeur which was calculated to inspire a becom- 
ing respect and awe. Ab the years of peace rolled on, this figure 
became more and more august, more and more conventional. The 
fatal defects of the system were not noticed until 1861, when the 
crisis came, and the service was unprepared to meet it. " 1 Sur- 
rounded thus with much of the pomp and dignity of a court and in- 
vested with what some of the admirers of that old regime have been 
pleased to call " kingly power, " it is no wonder that the average 
commodore lost sight of his true relation to the civil head of the 
navy and, unconsciously perhaps, came to regard him as merely a 
secretary, in fact as well as in title, interposed somewhat unneces- 

1 Professor J. B. Soley, in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War: Vol. I, p. 623. 


earily between himself and the chief executive. Instances are not 
lacking of commanders-in-chief of squadrons abroad ignoring or 
mis-interpreting orders sent themifrom the department, and there is 
at least one case on record of a commodore issuing an order, upon 
taking command of a squadron in a remote part of the world, abol- 
ishing all regulations of the Navy Department except such as had 
been approved by the President. 

Under these influences and surroundings Samuel F. DuPont had 
acquired step by step his naval education and beliefs through all the 
monotonous years from a midshipman in 1815 to within two num- 
bers of being the senior rear admiral in 1863. The sentiments ex- 
pressed by him in his correspondence with the Secretary of the Navy 
are therefore not surprising, although they would be actually start- 
ling if attempted at the present day. When the court of inquiry had 
finally disposed of the Stimers case, DuPont, under date of October 
22nd, broke the silence that he had observed since being detached 
from his command and sent a letter to the department that is one of 
the most instructive documents ever made public, its expressions pro- 
viding us with a perfect mirror of the mind of the old navy. A few 
of them are repeated as illustrative examples. 

" It is with profound regret that I perceive in your despatch of 
the 26th of June a reiteration of the charges and reproaches of previous 
despatches and in your silence since, during a period of three months, 
a resolution not to recall them. My last hope of justice at the hands 
of the department is therefore extinguished. 

" If I have failed in my duty I am liable to trial, but insulting 
imputations in official despatches are grave wrongs, perpetrated on 
the public records to my permanent injury. 

' ' The remedy which the law would afford me against a superior 
officer indulging in the language of your despatches does not exist 
against the civil head of the department. 

"I was aware of the visit of the Assistant Secretary to 
Charleston, but I learn with surprise from your despatch that, 
without a commission in the navy, he commanded the expedition 
which witnessed the bombardment of Sumter without relieving it. 

" I have no desire to question the power of the department to 
relieve me at its discretion, but its order of the 3d of June assigns 


causes which do not exist, and ascribed to me opinions which I had 
neither expressed nor entertained." 

Secretary Welles, after a delay of about two weeks, replied to 
this letter without resentment, reviewing the whole subject at great 
length and giving reasons in justification of the course pursued by 
the department that were considerate, even if not necessary. The 
general tone of the communication impresses one as conveying 
fatherly sorrow rather than the expression of offended authority, the 
only passage in it that may fairly be considered harsh being the 
following review of DuPont's operations at Charleston : 

"You disapproved of the occupancy of the harbor, yet I am 
not aware that you ever caused or attempted to have a reconnois- 
sance of the obstructions or any examination of the harbor made 
before the attack, nor am I aware that you have ever offered an 
excuse for this omission. After the attack was made you were dis- 
satisfied with the Ironsides — dissatisfied with the monitors — 
dissatisfied with Chief Engineer Stimers, against whom you pre- 
pared charges and desired that he might be arrested and sent to you 
for trial, he having expressed his surprise that you should abandon 
the assault on so brief an effort — dissatisfied with Surgeon Kershner, 
whom you court-martialed for a similar offense — dissatisfied with 
Mr. Fulton, the special agent of the Post Office Department, for 
his criticisms on your movements and acts — dissatisfied with the 
President for his telegram, and dissatisfied with the department for 
not more promptly and formally acknowledging and publishing 
your reports. 

"If these complaints and reports, wherein the admiral of the 
squadron devoted so large a portion of his time to his personal 
matters and so little towards marshalling his force for the occupa- 
tion of the harbor of Charleston and the capture of the city, were 
not received with the patience to which they were entitled, it was my 
misfortune. I do not deny that it would have been more accept- 
able to the department to have witnessed the zeal manifested in 
hunting down newspaper editors, engineers, and surgeons, directed 
against rebel enemies and to the destruction of their works.' 5 

This correspondence terminated the controversy and also con- 


eluded Bear Admiral DuPont's active participation in the executive 
administration of the operations of the Navy Department, for he 
remained unemployed, on waiting orders, until his death, which 
occured in June, 1865, soon after the close of the war. It was the 
fault of the system under who*e influence his life had been passed 
rather than from any personal short-coming of his own that the last 
years of his life were embittered. "There was no more accom- 
plished officer in our naval service than Admiral DuPont, no man 
of nobler personality, but he was the very incarnation of naval 
exclusiveness and prejudice against innovation, and the introduction 
of the monitors into our navy gave a shock to his sensibilities from 
which they never recovered. It may be that he was expected to 
accomplish with them more than was possible in his attack upon 
Charleston, but he was disposed to exaggerate their deficiencies and 
to criticise them in a spirit of unfriendliness that arrayed against 
him the active hostility of their champions." 1 

»W. C. Church, Life of John Ericsson; Vol. II., p. 64-65. 


" In the beauties of the lilies Christ was born beyond the sea, 
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me ; 
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free ; 
While God is marching on." 
Julia Wakd Howe; Battle-hymn of the Republic. 

1864. — The Civil War, Continued— Confederate Successes in the Use of Torpedoes 
— Blowing up of the Sloop-of-War Housatonic — Minor Naval Operations — 
Boiler Explosion on the Chenango — The Kearsahge-Alabama Fight — The 
Great Battle in Mobile Bay— Loss of the TECUMSEH-Capture of the Privateer 
Flokida by the Wachtjsett — The Gunboat Otsego sunk by a Torpedo — 
First Attack on Fort Fisher. 

NAYAL operations during 1864 were marked by a number of 
minor disasters and by several decisive victories, the general 
results of the year being most favorable to the reputation of the ser- 
vice. The first mishap of the year occurred to the small side-wheel 
steamer Underwriter, prominently identified with the service of 
holding possession of the North Carolina Sounds during the two 
preceding years. About 2 a. m. February 2nd this vessel, while 
lying at anchor in the Neuse Kiver near Newburn, was boarded in 
the dark by a force of over one hundred men in boats and over- 
powered after a resistance Of fifteen minutes in which her com- 
mander, Acting Master Westervelt, was killed, and the crew, num- 
bering only forty people all told, became prisoners of war. After 
taking off the prisoners and plundering the vessel she was set on 
fire and destroyed. Acting Third Assistant Engineer George E. 
Allen and twenty-two of the men escaped in a peculiar manner due 
to the haste of the enemy and the courage and presence of mind of 
Mr. Allen. They were all driven into one boat, the last to shove 
off from the Underwriter, and were soon surprised to hear the 
guard in charge of it hailing the boat ahead for assistance, it appear- 
ing that in their hurry to get away from the ship the Confederates 
had all embarked in the first boats, leaving only two to go in the 
last one, in which were over twenty prisoners. Quickly realizing 




the situation, Mr. Allen snatched the cutlass from the belt of the 
guard near him and thus made himself master of the boat, the other 
guard jumping overboard and swiming for another boat which had 
turned back. By hard pulling on the part of the men, Mr. Allen 
safely conducted his captured boat to the Federal fortifications at 
Newbern and at daylight reported with his party on board the Lock- 
wood, lying at that place. The other officers and the remainder of 
the crew became prisoners of war. 

About 9 o'clock the evening of February 17th a Confederate 
' ' david, ' ' as the nearly immersed cigar-shaped torpedo boats of the 
enemy came to be called from the name of one of the first of them, 
just as monitor became a generic term, approached the sloop-of-war 

Wa l 

Confederate "david," or torpedo boat. From a drawing by Second Assistant 
Engineer W. S. Smith for a report of Hear Admiral Dahlgren. 

Housatonic, lying on the outer blockade off Charleston, and was not 
discovered until so close as to explode a torpedo under the Housa- 
tonic, sinking her. Ensign Hazeltine, Captain's Clerk Muzzy, and 
three men were drowned, all others of the Bhip's company saving 
themselves by taking to the rigging, which remained above water, 
the boats of the Oanandaigua rescuing them soon afterward. The 
torpedo boat itself also went to the bottom. This disaster was due 
to the excellence in the use of torpedoes which had been arrived at 
by the Confederates, they, in the absence of ships to carry on naval 
operations, being forced to wage war with these weapons then novel 
and unusual. The use of torpedoes was by no means a new thing, 
but it was a practice rather abhorrent to the minds of trained fight- 
ing men, and owed its development by the naval officers of the 
South to necessity rather than desire. 


One of the first successful uses of the torpedo in the Civil War 
was the blowing up of the iron-clad gun-boat Cairo in the Missis- 
sippi Eiver in 1862, by a Confederate naval officer who had been 
taught less furtive methods of warfare in the old navy, and who 
was so doubtful of the propriety of the mode of attack directed by 
him that he described his feelings, when he saw that the Cairo was 
actually going to sink, as much the same as those of a schoolboy at 
seeing serious results follow from something begun in sport. The 
sentiment in the navy regarding torpedoes at that time is well shown 
by some comments of Rear Admiral Farragut, who, reporting to 
the department in May, 1864, that he intended to make use of them 
to be on an equality with his enemy, felt it necessary to excuse 
himself by explaining: 

' ' Torpedoes are not so agreeable when used on both sides ; there- 
fore I have reluctantly brought myself to it. 

" I have always deemed it unworthy of a chivalrous nation, but 
it does not do to give your enemy such a decided superiority over 
you. ' ' 

In the hands of the Confederates torpedo warfare was consider- 
ably advanced and torpedoes became the most formidable weapon 
against which our naval vessels had to contend, as well as the cause of 
the greater part of the disasters suffered by the Federal navy during the 
rebellion. The present high development of torpedoes as a weapon 
for naval warfare may be directly traced to the impetus gained by its 
successes during the Civil War, which not only illustrated its great 
possibilities but also overcame any chivalric objections to its use 
which may have been formerly entertained by naval officers. 

The evening of April 18th another "david" passed through the 
iron-clad blockade line off Charleston and made for the big frigate 
Wabash lying in the outer line. In this case, however, it was dis- 
covered in time for the Wabash to get under way and man the bat- 
tery, her fire either destroying or driving off the small but much- 
feared adversary. On the sixth of May the ferry gunboat Commo- 
dore Jones while near Four Mile Creek in the James River ran upon 
a moored torpedo and met with utter destruction, about one-half of 
her crew being either killed or wounded. The next day the gunboat 


Shawsheen while searching for torpedoes near Turkey Bend in the 
same locality fell a victim to exposed machinery and was destroyed 
by a battery suddenly unmasked in the woods, the first shots from 
which disabled her by exploding the steam drum and breaking the 
walking-beam of the engine. The officers and crew became prisoners 
and the vessel was burned by her captors. 

A daring expedition, although on a small scale, was conducted 
in March by Acting Master Champion of the Pawnee, who, with the 
tug gunboat Columbine commanded by Acting Ensign Sanborn, and 
a party of volunteers from the Pawnee, proceeded up the St. Johns 
River in Florida, captured two steamers, a large quantity of cotton, 
provisions, and army supplies, and returned safely to the ship after 
having been for two weeks in the enemy's country and penetrated 
the river over two hundred miles. The volunteer party from the 
Pawnee consisted of Second Assistant Engineer Alfred Adamson, 
Third Assistant Engineer Arthur Price, an acting master's mate, and 
twelve men, all embarked at first in a launch towed by the Columbine, 
but transferred the second day to a steamer, the General Sumter, they 
had captured in Great Lake George. Two days later the Sumter en- 
countered and captured the steamer Hattie in Deep Creek and con- 
verted her into a transport for carrying cotton, machinery, and other 
contraband of war seized at the river stations visited. When taken, 
the Hattie was found disabled by the Confederates, who in abandon- 
ing her had carried off all the valves of the feed and other pumps 
about the engines and boilers, but the ingenuity of Messrs. Adamson 
and Price overcame this defect and soon restored the steamer to a 
useful condition. Without any means of doing better, they hastily 
made valves of wood which were found to answer the purpose and 
enabled the vessel to do service until time permitted more permanent 

Two months' later in the same river the Columbine met the fate 
that had overtaken so many of the purchased steamers with exposed 
machinery and fell into the hands of the enemy. She was attacked 
by a battery hidden in the underbrush along the bank and almost at 
the first fire rendered helpless by a shot cutting the main steam pipe, 
her surrender following as the natural result of her inability to move 
into a position to use her guns or get out of the range of fire. Her 
people were taken prisoners and the enemy burned their prize with- 


out taking time to remove anything of value. The senior engineer 
of the Columbine was referred to in the following complimentary 
manner in the commanding officer's report of the disaster: " I take 
great pleasure in recommending to your favorable notice the conduct 
of Acting Third Assistant Engineer Henry J. Johnson, who coolly 
performed his duty until the engine became disabled, when he ren- 
dered me the most valuable assistance on deck. ' ' Mr. Johnson and 
his assistant, Mr. George Whitney, acting third assistant engineer, 
had a most miserable time for several months after capture, being 
moved about to various prison pens, jails and workhouses, and 
forced to mix with felons imprisoned for all sorts of crimes. 

A frightful disaster occurred on board the new double-ender 
Chenango when she first sailed from the city where she was built. 
This vessel, on the 15th of April, left New York, under the com- 
mand of Lieutenant Commander T. S. Fillebrown, bound for Hamp- 
ton Roads; while passing between Forts Hamilton and Lafayette her 
port boiler suddenly exploded blowing up the deck, killing twenty- 
five of the crew and wounding ten others, all four of her engineers 
being among the killed. A court of inquiry held at the Brooklyn 
navy yard found that the disaster was caused by a defective vein in 
the iron in the boiler, and that no blame or want of vigilance could 
be ascribed to any officer of the vessel. The chief engineer, Mr. 
Joseph N. Cahill, first assistant engineer, U. S. Navy, was particu- 
larly exonerated, he being known as one of the most careful and 
cautious officers in the service. The Shenango belonged to the Sas- 
samis class of double-enders and was built by J. Simonson, Green- 
point, Long Island, the engines and boilers being supplied by the 
Morgan Iron Works, New York. The boilers were of the Martin 
vertical water-tube type and may have been defective in bracing as 
well as material, as another of them had exploded with fatal results 
on the Lenapee of the same class when steam was raised in it at the 
contractor's works. 

Besides the naval court of inquiry as to the accident, it was also 
investigated by a coroner's jury which found the cause to be defective 
material and fixed the blame upon the person or persons responsible 
for the construction of the boilers. The responsibility narrowed 
down to Second Assistant Engineer S. Wilkins Cragg, who as an 
assistant to a general engineer superintendent had been stationed at 


the Morgan Works in special charge of the Chenango's machinery, 
and he was dismissed the service by the Secretary of the Nary, who 
cited the finding of the coroner's jury as the reason for his action. 
Owing to the haste with which vessels were built in those days and 
the constant pressure always bearing upon the contractors to hurry 
their work along, Mr. Cragg proved that he was unable to control 
the nature of the work under his inspection and that his dismissal 
was unjust. About two years later he was restored to the navy, and 
a few years afterward resigned. In after years he was a prominent 
figure in Paris in connection with the street improvements of that 

On the morning of June 2nd the TJ. S. Steamer Victoria chased 
ashore, captured and set on fire a large British steamer named 
Georgianna McCaw trying to run the blockade into Wilmington, on 
which occasion an engineer officer of the Victoria greatly distingu- 
ished himself, as shown by the following extracts from the report of 
the commanding officer: 

"I immediately ordered the first and second cutters to board 
and fire her — the former under command of Acting Master's Mate 
William Moody, the latter under charge of Acting Third Assistant 
Engineer Thomas W. HineHne. 

" On their arrival on board they found that two boats with their 
crews had escaped to the shore. They, however, succeeded in cap- 
turing twenty-nine of the crew, including the captain and most of the 
officers, together with three passengers. They fired her in several 
places, and she continued to burn until 10 a. m., when she was 
boarded from the shore. 

" At daylight Fort Caswell and the adjacent batteries opened 
fire upon our boats with shot and shell, which compelled them to re- 
turn without accomplishing her destruction. 

" I would add, sir, that too much credit cannot be awarded to 
Acting Master's Mate William Moody and Acting Third Assistant 
Engineer Thomas W. Hineline for their perseverance and energy 
displayed, and their cool and gallant conduct while under fire of the 

For this exploit the acting master's mate was made an acting 


ensign, and Mr. Hineline advanced to the grade of second assistant 
engineer, the following letter being sent him by the department on 
the 22nd of July, 1864: 

" Sir: For your cool and gallant conduct under fire of the 
enemy as mentioned by Acting Master Everson commanding U. S. S. 
Victoria in his report of the attempt to destroy the blockade-runner 
Qeorgianna McCaw, you are hereby promoted to the grade of acting 
Second Assistant Engineer in the navy of the United States, on tem- 
porary service. 

" Very respectfully, 

" Gideon Welles." 

The capture of the Water Witch in Ossabaw Sound on the 3rd 
of June, 1864, has been referred to in an earlier chapter, but is 
worthy of further comment on account of a peculiar question regard- 
ing the conduct of her chief engineer in the affair. The Water Witch 
was boarded while lying at anchor by a large force of the enemy, 
who, in the extreme darkness of the night, got close aboard before 
being discovered and gained the deck before the crew could be assem- 
bled to repel them. The commander of the vessel, Lieutenant Com- 
mander Austin Pendergrast, reported afterward that his crew showed 
no disposition to defend the ship and gave as a reason for this very 
remarkable behavior that the men were dissatisfied because the most 
of them were kept on board after their time of enlistment had ex- 
pired. Such defense as was made was against great numerical odds 
by a few of the men and some of the officers, the hero of the occa- 
sion and most formidable combatant being Acting Assistant Pay- 
master Luther Billings, who was subsequently recognized by pro- 
■ motion for his gallantry. 

With the hope of swamping the enemy's barges alongside, the 
ship's engines (side-wheels) were started, but soon stopped at the 
demand of a Confederate officer who enforced his order with a re- 
volver. Lieutenant Commander Pendergrast referred to this in his 
report as an exhibition of cowardice on the part of the engineers 
and charged the loss of the ship against them in the following 
words : " Had they obeyed my orders to work the engine, the 
enemy would have been unable to board us ; but, so far from fight- 


iDg the rebels, they surrendered at the first summons, and thereby 
lost the ship. ' ' The engineers on their part called attention to the 
fact that they were unarmed and claimed that the appearance of the 
enemy in the engine-room led them to believe that the deck had 
been already carried. Just how an unarmed man, engineer or not, 
is to resist an order given by an armed enemy in battle is not at all 
apparent. Instead of charging the disaster to the cowardice of the 
engineers it seems that a more liberal and logical view of the matter 
would place the blame upon an organization that compelled them to 
go into action unarmed, when the nature of their duties were such 
that they might at any moment be called upon to fight and when 
their inability to do so might result in the loss of the ship, as the 
commanding officer reported was the case in this instance. 

Besides the misbehavior charged against him at the time of the 
capture, the senior engineer of the Water Witch, Samuel Genther, 
acting first assistant engineer, was reported by his commanding offi. 
cer for ' ' disgraceful conduct ' ' while held as a prisoner of war, in 
that he asked to be released from confinement on the ground that 
he did not fight and as anon-combatant should not be made to suffer 
the consequences of war. Mr. Genther was a volunteer officer of 
less than two years' service, the greater part of which had been 
passed on the Water Witch, and it may be that he had been led to 
believe that he, as a staff officer, was simply a civil employe and a 
non-combatant, and he may have been sincere in asserting his claim 
to release from captivity. It was unfortunate for him, however, 
that he could not have had a time of peace in which to pronounce 
himself a non-combatant, for it availed him nothing under the living 
conditions of war : the enemy refused to liberate him, and the Navy 
Department, as soon as he was exchanged, summarily dismissed 
him from the service for his part in the surrender of the Water Witch 
and for ' ' un-officer-like conduct ' ' while held as a prisoner of war. 

The duel between the U. S. sloop-of-war Kearsarge and the 
Confederate war-steamer Alabama on Sunday the 19th of June, 
1864, was one of the most gratifying events of tKe Civil "War, not 
alone from the fact that it resulted in removing from the surface of 
the ocean the scourge and terror of American commerce, but 
because circumstances made it practically a competitive test to 
destruction of the systems of ship, engine and gun building and 


management in the American and British navies. The two ships 
were as evenly matched in size, armament and crew as could pos- 
sibly be expected of vessels built and armed in different countries, 
their relative proportions being as follows: 


Length over all 220 feet 214 feet 3 inches. 

Length on water-line, 210 " 198 " 6 " 

Beam 32 " 33 " 10 " 

Depth of hold 17 " 16 " 

Tonnage 1,150 1,031 

The Alabama was full bark-rigged with very lofty spars, her 
main especially being so tall that it had come to be recognized as a 
sign of danger to American skippers in all seas, and this gave her 
the appearance of being a much larger vessel than the Kearsarge, 
which at that time was fitted with disproportionately low and small 
masts and carried no spars above the topsail yards. The armament 
of the Alabama consisted of one Vll-inch Blakely rifle; one VIII. 
inch shell-gun, and six long 32-pounders; all British guns. That 
of the Kearsarge was two XI- inch smooth-bore guns; one 30- 
pounder rifle, and four short 32-pounders; all American guns. The 
Alabama went into action with 149 officers and men in her crew, a 
majority of her men being British subjects, and the Kearsarge had 
163 all told. With the exception of eleven persons of inferior 
ratings this ship's company was composed of native-born citizens of 
the United States, the most of them being seamen and mechanics 
from the coast and workshops of New England. 

The magnificent discipline and courage displayed by the 
Kearsarge' 's men; the question of the chain armor; the conduct of 
the British jacht Deerhownd; the wild firing of the Alabama and 
the deadly precision of that of the Kearsarge, with other familiar and 
often-told incidents of the fight need not be gone over here, but 
instead a few comments will be made upon some other features of 
the combat not usually brought into prominence in the historical 
accounts. One of these points is the assumed superiority of the 
gunners of the Alabama, her commander, Semmes, being quoted in 
the London Times a few days after the fight as saying that he ex- 
pected his trained British gun- captains to make short work of the 
volunteers of the Kearsarge. It is true that the gun's-crews of the 


Federal ship, divisional officers as well as men, were volunteers, 
but they were anything but recruits as the term usually signifies. 
The Kearsarge had been in commission for more than two years 
under a well organized and liberally administered system of naval 
discipline, that length of time being more than sufficient to convert 
almost any class of recruits into thorough men-of-war's-men. The 
material in this case happened to be of intelligence to start 
with, and after thirty months of constant training aboard ship had 
arrived at a state of competence and familiarity with their duties 
that left absolutely nothing to dread from the products of British or 
any other system of naval training. Just such volunteers as these 
manned our ships in the war of 1812, and will man them in the 
next naval war. 

The circling tactics observed by the two ships during the fight 
were forced by Captain Winslow of the Kea/rsa/rge to prevent his 
antagonist from approaching the neutral three-mile limit off shore. 
His ability to thus determine the order of battle was due to the 
superiority of his engineer's department, and to that alone, for had 
the Alabama possessed the greater speed she could have compelled 
the fight to be maintained on parallel courses leading shoreward, as 
pointed out in Winslow's report of the battle. The Alabama was 
built with special reference to speed both as a steamer and as a 
sailer and was supposed to be much the superior of the Kearsarge 
in both capacities, Captain Semmes, again, being authority for the 
statement that he expected to have a decided advantage in the 
matter of speed when he went into action. With the weaker motive 
power, the Kearsarge owed her superior performance to her engine- 
room force which was made up of intelligent and capable young 
American mechanics, who had been trusted to carry out the details 
of their duties without captious interference, and who consequently 
had arrived at a point so near perfection that when the hour of battle 
came the performance of the machinery exceeded all previous 
records and made the Kearsarge the better ship. 

The Kearsarge' 's machinery was built by the well-known firm of 
Woodruff & Beach, Hartford, Connecticut, the contract price for it 
being $ 104, 000. The ship itself was built at the navy yard, Kit- 
tery, Maine. The machinery was well made and excellent for its 
kind, although not designed with any special reference to speed, 


and its fine condition after thirty months of service is the best pos- 
sible proof of the zeal and capability of the engineers who had 
charge of it. An Englishman, Mr. Frederick Milnes Edge, who 
published a pamphlet account of the battle soon after it occurred, 
was so impressed with the evident care exhibited by the condition 
of the machinery of the Kea/rsarge that he wrote: 

" I have not seen engines more compact in form, nor appar- 
ently in finer condition — looking in every part as though they were 
fresh from the workshop, instead of being, as they are, half through 
the third year of the cruise. ' ' 

Mr. Cushman, the chief engineer of the ship, was a veteran of 
the old navy well qualified to train the new hands which the war 
had brought into the service; thetfour assistant engineers belonged to 
the regular service but had entered on account of the existence of 
war and consequently had no more naval experience than the volun- 
teer deck officers of their ship, but that, as the event showed, was 
quite sufficent for both classes. The Kea/rsarge went into action 
with her fires raked perfectly clean and bright, the furnace draft 
forced by artificial means, and the safety valves lashed down, under 
which conditions she fought at her utmost speed throughout the en- 
gagement, her decks trembling under the feet of the crew from the 
vibration of the engines and the roar of the fires. The senior 
assistant engineer, Mr. Badlam, was stationed in charge of the 
engines; Mr. Miller, the next engineer in rank, had charge of the 
boilers; Third Assistant Engineer Sidney L. Smith was on the spar 
deck with the fire-hose company, and the junior, Mr. McConnell, 
was stationed at the engine-room signal-bell. In the report of the 
chief engineer the conduct of these four officers and of the men of the 
engine-room force was especially referred to as being cool, self- 
possessed and efficient. The same was true of the whole ship's 
company, for the action was fought with the same deliberation and 
lack of excitement that had characterized the daily drills. 

The detailed report of the conduct of officers and men contains 
the following relative to the engineer's department : 

"The engineer's division was admirably and efficiently con 


ducted, under the command of Chief Engineer W. H. Cushman. 
Sidney L. Smith and Henry McConnell, third assistant engineers, 
were stationed on deck, and their conduct came immediately under 
my observation. It was distinguished by coolness and vigilance. 
The other assistants, Mr. W. H. Badlam and Mr. F. L. Miller, 
were on duty in the engine and fire-rooms, and, judging from the 
prompt manner in which the orders from the deck were executed, I 
know that their duties were creditably performed." 

The Alabama fired about three hundred and seventy times but 
only twenty-eight of her shots struck the Kearsarge, and they did 
her no serious harm ; only three of her men were wounded, one of 
whom, William Gowin, subsequently died. The Kearsarge fired'one 
hundred and seventy-three times, the most of her projectiles finding 
the mark : about forty men were killed and wounded on the Ala- 
bama, and the ship was dreadfully cut to pieces before she sank. 
Her engines were disabled by a shell which exploded in a coal 
bunker, completely blocking the engine-room with coal and wreck- 
age and wounding two assistant engineers. Another shell alone was 
reported by prisoners to have killed and wounded eighteen men and 
disabled a gun. Ten of the shots fired from the Kearsarge were from 
a 12-pounder howitzer and performed no part in the sinking of the 

"Two quartermasters were put in charge of this gun with 
instructions to fire when they were ordered ; but the old salts, little 
relishing having nothing to do when their shipmates were all so busy 
commenced peppering away with their pea-shooter of a piece, alter- 
nating its discharges with vituperation of each other. This low- 
comedy by-play amused the ship's company, and the officer of the 
division good-hum oredly allowed the farce to continue until the 
single box of ammunition was exhausted." 1 

One other incident of the fight cannot be told too often to cor- 
rect a popular error regarding the supposed narrow escape the Kear- 

- From a popular account of the battle by Mr. Henry McConnell, cashier of the 
Kensington National Bank of Philadelphia ; Mr. McConnell was the assistant en- 
gineer of the Kewrsarge stationed at the engine-room signal bell. 


sarge had from destruction. A 100-pounder shell was found lodged 
in her stern-post after the battle and has been exhibited at one of 
the navy yards ever since with a section of the stern-post, where it 
has been regarded with awe by a whole generation of visitors. At 
the World's Columbian Exposition this same piece of the stern-post 
with the shell still lodged in it was one of the most attractive ex- 
hibits on the model battle-ship and was seen by upwards of three 
million people. It is currently believed that if this shell had ex- 
ploded, the Kearsarge and not the Alabama would have gone to the 
bottom of the English Channel, and people, according to their de- 
gree of piety, ascribe the miraculous escape to luck, Providence, or 
the direct intervention of the Almighty. The truth is, however, 
that this shell struck the counter of the Kearsarge at least twenty feet 
from the stern-post and would have exploded then, where the dam- 
age would have been slight, had it possessed any explosive power, 
for it was a percussion shell. After striking, it glanced, scoring the 
planking for about ten feet, then passed through the air some ten 
feet more and finally embedded itself in the stern-post, its final 
impact doing some damage by starting the transom frame and 
binding the rudder so that four men were required thereafter to 
work the wheel. 

The most sanguinary and important naval battle of the Civil 
War was the battle in Mobile Bay the morning of August 5, 1864. 
The fleet under command of Rear Admiral Farragut stripped for 
action much the same as was done more than two years before pre- 
paratory to passing the forts below New Orleans. Superfluous 
boats, spars, etc. , were taken out of the ships and anchored off 
shore or left at Pensacola, some of the ships thus disposing even of 
their lower yards and topmasts. The plan of lashing a small vessel 
to the unexposed side of a larger one to carry her past the fort in 
case of serious damage was again adopted, and at daylight the morn- 
ing of the 5th the vessels designated for the attack moved up the 
bay to their work, the pairing and order of advance, together with 
the names of commanding officers and chief engineers being as 
follows : 


' Brooklyn, Captain James Alden ; Chief Engineer Mortimer 
Octorora, Lieutenant Commander C. H. Greene ; Acting First 
Assistant Engineer W. W. Shipman. 


'Hartford (flag), Captain Percival Drayton ; Chief Engineer 
Thomas Williamson. 
Metacomet, Lieutenant Commander Jas. E. Jouett ; First Assist- 
ant Engineer James Atkins. 

' Richmond, Captain Thornton A. Jenkins ; Chief Engineer 

Jackson McElmell. 
Port Royal, Lieutenant Commander B. Gherardi ; First Assist- 
ant Engineer Fletcher A. Wilson. 

' Lackrwanna, Captain J. B. Marchand ; First Assistant Engineer 

Jas. W. Whittaker. 
Seminole, Commander Edward Donaldson ; Acting First Assist- 
ant Engineer Claude Babcock. 

' Monongahela, Commander J. H. Strong ; Chief Engineer George 

F. Kutz. 
Kennebec, Lieutenant Commander Wm. P. McCann ; Second 
Assistant Engineer L. W. Robinson. 

( Ossipee, Commander Wm. E. LeRoy ; Acting Chief Engineer 
J James M. Adams. 

] Itaska, Lieutenant Commander George Brown ; Second Assistant 
[ Engineer John L. D. Borthwick. 

' Oneida, Commander J. R. M. Mullany ; Chief Engineer William 
H. Hunt. 
Galena, Lieutenant Commander Clark H. Wells ; First Assistant 
Engineer William G. Buehler. 

Four monitors, two of the Ericsson type and two of the Edes 
Mississippi "turtle-back" type, were already inside the bar and 
near Fort Morgan with orders to move along with the head of the 
column between the leading ships and the fort, in the following 
order : 

Tecumseh, Commander T. A. M. Craven ; Chief Engineer John 

Manhattan, Commander J. W. A. Nicholson ; Acting Chief Engi- 
neer C. L. Carty. 

Winnebago, Commander T. H. Stevens ; Acting Chief Engineer 
Simon Shultice. 

Chickasaw, Lieutenant Commander Geo. H. Perkins ; Acting Chief 
Engineer Wm. Rodgers. 


Six small gunboats, the Pembma, Pmola, Sebago, Tennessee, 
Bienville, and Genesee, were advanced into the shoal water off 
Mobile Point somewhat to the rear of Fort Morgan for the purpose 
of disconcerting by their fire the batteries of that fortification, but 
owing to some confusion of orders or misunderstanding they an- 
chored so far away that their fire was ineffective and they are not 
usually credited with having participated in the battle. 

About 6.30 a. m. the line was well up towards the fort, the 
four monitors being close into the shore, and the formation for 
battle was being perfected, the first shots at the fort being fired at 
that time by the Teewmseh. A few minutes past seven the fort 
opened on the leading ship, the Brooklyn, and immediately there- 
after the action became general between the fort, the leading ships 
and the monitors. In this firing the Teewmseh did not take part, for 
after having fired the first two shots to scale her guns she had 
loaded with steel bolts and the heaviest charges of powder allowed, 
to be in readiness to engage the iron- clad ram Tennessee then emerg- 
ing from behind Fort Morgan. At 7. 30 a. m. the Teewmseh was the 
foremost vessel in the line, being off the starboard bow of the 
BrooMyn, and was steadily advancing, intent only upon getting 
into action with the Tennessee, when her destruction came with 
awful suddenness by the explosion of a torpedo underneath her, 
from the effects of which she went to the bottom with her gallant 
commander and the greater part of her crew within less than half a 
minute. The swiftness of her destruction may be comprehended 
from the following extract from a lecture by an eye-witness, Chief 
Engineer Harrie Webster, U. S. Navy who as an assistant engineer 
was in the turret of the Manhattan in charge of its turning gear, 
only two hundred yards distant from the Tecumseh. 

' 'A tiny white comber of froth curled around her bow, a tre- 
mendous shock ran through our ship as though we had struck a 
rock, and as rapidly as these words flow from my lips the Tecum- 
seh reeled a little to starboard, her bows settled beneath the surface, 
and while we looked, her stern lifted high in the air with the pro- 
peller still revolving, and the ship pitched out of sight, like an 
arrow twanged from her bow." 

The Teewmseh went into action with seven line officers, includ- 


ing the commander, six engineers, one surgeon, one paymaster, a 
pilot, and ninety -eight enlisted men. Of these, three line officers, 
the pilot, and seventeen men were saved, all others losing their 
lives by drowning or concussion. With the exception of one coal- 
heaver the entire engine-room force of six officers and thirty-seven 
men was annihilated, the majority probably by shock, as the sur- 
vivors reported that the torpedo exploded under the middle of the 
ship and blew the bottom about the machinery spaces to pieces. 
The chief engineer, Mr. John Faron, had left a sick bed in the hos- 
pital at Pensacola at his own urgent request to go on board his 
vessel to take part in the battle. He had been in the regular navy 
since 1848 and was a popular and capable officer whose death, re- 
sulting from his own devotion to duty, was greatly deplored. The 
engineers who perished with him were F. S. Barlow, Elisha Harsen, 
and H. S. Leonard, all second assistants in the regular service, and 
Thomas Ustick and Henry Hitter, acting third assistants. 

The tragedy of the Tecumseh occasioned some confusion in the 
fleet, during which the Brooklyn faltered and Farragut went ahead 
of her with the Hartford and led the fleet successfully past the fort, 
but not without great loss, the fire from the fort and from the Con- 
federate gunboats lying above doing great injury to several of the 
ships. The broadside fire of the larger vessels was so terrific that it 
eventually practically silenced the fort and the column was able to pass 
almost unmolested after the first vessels had gone by. Last in the line 
came the evil-starred Oneida, and by the time she arrived abreast 
of Morgan the gunners had returned to their batteries and opened 
upon her with great fury. Able naval critics say it was a mis- 
take to put a small vessel last in line, for had one of the large 
broadside ships like the Richmond or Brooklyn brought up the 
rear she could have successfully protected herself by her own fire 
and forced the enemy to again abandon his guns. As it was, the 
Oneida was roughly handled. 

"A rifled shell passed through her chain armor, and entering 
the starboard boiler exploded in it, causing sad havoc among the 
firemen and coal-heavers of the watch below, all of whom were 
either killed outright or fearfully scalded by the escaping steam. 
Another shell, exploding in the cabin, cut both wheel-ropes, while 


a third set fire to the deck above the forward magazine ; yet, en- 
couraged by the chiyalric bearing of their commander, and the fine 
example set them by the executive officer and the chief engineer of 
the ship, the crew of the Oneida behaved splendidly. The relieving 
tackles were instantly manned, the fire put out, and connection be- 
tween the starboard and port boiler cut off; and the Oneida, assisted 
by the Galena, went on as if nothing unusual had happened on 
board of her, her guns never for a moment ceasing to respond to the 
really terrific fire of the enemy." 1 

The chief engineer of the Oneida, Mr. Wm. H. Hunt, was 
badly scalded in both arms but remained at his post and succeeded 
in restoring order from the frightful scene following the explosion 
of the shell in the boiler, his gallantry being so conspicuous that it 
was made a subject of special reference in the report of the com- 
manding officer. Mr. Fitch, the senior assistant engineer of the 
ship, was severely scalded and likewise distinguished himself by his 
gallant behavior, the chief engineer reporting of him in the follow- 
ing terms: "Too much praise cannot be accorded to First Assistant 
Engineer K. A. Fitch, who, at the time of the injury to the boiler, 
displayed the utmost courage and coolness, remaining at his station 
in the execution of his duties until he was so badly scalded by the 
escaping steam as to be rendered almost helpless." Acting Third 
Assistant Engineer Nicholas Dillon was also commended in the 
official reports for extraordinary services, he having undertaken the 
duties of Mr. Fitch when that officer succumbed to his injuries. 

After getting past the fort with the assistance of the Galena, 
the Oneida came up to the scene of a fierce combat between the 
Monongahela and some of the other Union vessels and the Tennessee 
just in time to be assailed by the latter, which, by chance rather 
than design, got under the Oneida's stern and raked her fore and aft 
with a broadside, destroying boats and rigging, dismounting a gun, 
crippling the mainmast, and injuring some of her people, among 
them Commander Mullany, who lost an arm. At this stage of the 

1 Commodore Foxhall A. Parker, U. S. Navy— The Battle of Mobile Bay; 
page 31. 



fight the Confederate gunboats had become so annoying that Farra- 
gut signaled his own small vessels to cast loose from their consorts 
and attack them; to which order the Metacomet, Port Royal, Kenne- 
bec and Itaslca at once responded. The first named, under Lieuten- 
ant Commander (now Kear Admiral) James A. Jouett, got off first 
and captured the Selma which she singled out and pursued. One of 
the enemy's gunboats, the Morgan, escaped to Mobile; the other, 
the Gaines, was run on shore in a sinking condition near the fort, 
set on fire by her own people and abandoned. The Tennessee with- 
drew from the fight and anchored under the guns of the fort, still 
practically uninjured and without a man in her crew disabled. The 
Federal vessels proceeded about four miles up the bay and anchored, 
piping to breakfast after hastily clearing away the wreckage and 
other more dreadful evidences of the conflict. 

Scarcely had the men gathered about their mess-cloths when the 
Tennessee was observed to be under way, standing up the bay for 
another fight. The struggle that ensued between her and the whole 
Federal fleet was a desperate one and lasted more than an hour before 
the Tennessee was literally worried into a surrender. She was pelted 
with the broadsides of the large ships, which, however, did her little 
damage, and was rammed in succession by .the Monongahela, Lacka- 
wanna and Hartford. The three monitors, especially the Chickasaw, 
hung close aboard her and with their heavy projectiles succeeded in 
crushing her casemate armor, jamming her port-shutters, and finally 
reduced her to the necessity of surrendering. Her admiral, Frank- 
lin Buchanan,lostaleg;two of her men were killed; two assistant engi- 
neers, the pilot, and five men were wounded. The Selma in her fight 
with the Metacomet had eight men killed and seven wounded before 
she surrendered. The Confederate loss in Fort Morgan was not 

The last shot fired by the Tennessee entered the berth deck of the 
Hartford, exploded and killed five men and wounded eight, one of the 
latter being Third Assistant Engineer William Gx. McEwan, stationed 
there in charge of the fire-hose company, who lost his right arm. 
The sword which he wore was torn from him and hurled across the 
deck, the sword-belt being driven under a mess-chest where it was 
found several days later. Mr. McEwan was a volunteer officer, and 
as he had distinguished himself in the earlier part of the engagement, 


Admiral Farragut made a special report of his case, recommending 
that he be rewarded by transfer to the regular service, which was 
done and a comfortable pension assured him for life by his being 
placed on the retired list. 

The Tennessee was the largest and most formidable war vessel 
built within the limits of the Confederacy during the war, her 
length being 209 feet ; extreme beam 48 feet, and average draft of 
water 14 feet : her general design was like the Atlanta, of which a 
sketch has appeared in a former chapter, except that her hull was 
built wholly of wood. The casemate was of the same form but 
heavier, the wooden backing of yellow pine and oak being 22£ 
inches thick, sheathed with 5 inches of iron plating on the sides and 
after end and 6 inches forward. This iron plating, it is worthy of 
remark, was made from the ore at the iron furnaces in Atlanta, the 
Southerners having begun when too late to pay attention to the 
mechanic arts so necessary for prosperity in peace and absolutely 
vital in war. The Tennessee was built at Selma, Alabama, from 
timber that was standing at the time the work was begun in 1863, 
and was gotten down the Alabama river and into Mobile bay only 
by overcoming many difficulties. Her battery of six Brooke rifles 
was also of southern manufacture. Her weak point was the ma- 
chinery, which was not built for her and was wholly unfit for a war 
vessel : it was taken out of a river steamer named Alonzo Child, and 
consisted of two high-pressure engines with cylinders 24 inches in 
diameter by 7 feet stroke placed fore and aft in the vessel and driving 
an idler shaft by means of spur gearing ; this shaft in turn driving 
the screw-shaft through the medium of cast iron bevel-gears. 
Steam was supplied by four horizontal return-flue boilers 24 feet 
long, placed side by side with one furnace under the whole of them. 
The vessel was found by a board of survey immediately after cap- 
ture to be fit for service, and was taken into the navy at the ap- 
praised value of $595,000. Admiral Earragut's original report of 
his prize was accompanied with some excellent drawings and 
sketches of her, made by second assistant engineers Isaac DeGraff 
of the Hartford and Eobert Weir of the Richmond, from whose 
sketches and the accompanying description the data of this para- 
graph have been obtained. 

Fort Morgan surrendered to the combined army and naVal 


forces about two weeks after the battle, the other fortifications in 
Mobile Bay having surrendered or been abandoned within a day or 
two after the Federal fleet forced its way in. 

The casualties in the fleet during the morning battle were as 


Hartford 25 28 

Brooklyn 11 43 

Lackawanna 4 35 

Oneida 8 30 

Monongahela 6 

Metacomet, 1 2 

Ossipee 1 7 

Richmond 2 

Galena 1 

Octorora 1 10 

Kennebec 1 6 

Tecumseh 92 

Total 144 170 

The above list of casualties does not include two men killed 
and two wounded immediately after the battle on the small armed 
steamer Pkillvppi which rashly attempted to follow the fleet in and 
was destroyed by the guns of the fort. 

The loss in the British fleet at the battle of Copenhagen, some- 
what similar in character to that of Mobile, was 253 killed and 688 

Early in October the U. S. sloop-of-war Wachusett, Com- 
mander Napoleon Collins, was in the harbor of Bahia, Brazil, in 
company with the Confederate privateer Florida, which vessel the 
Wachusett was seeking. Determined to seize or destroy her, even 
if the neutrality of the port had to be violated, Collins assembled 
some of his officers and announced he was going to get under way 
with the apparent intention of going to sea and when near the 
Florida to suddenly change the course, run into and sink her, or 
carry her by boarding. To this plan the chief engineer objected on 
the ground that the shock of the collision might start the boilers 
from their seatings and create ruin by rupturing the steam pipes and 
boiler connections; an objection that appeared so reasonable in the 
absence of anyone with experience in ramming that the intention 


would probably have been abandoned had not one of the assistant 
engineers announced that he would voluntarily take charge of the 
machinery, allow everyone else to leave the engine and fire-rooms 
just before the collision and remain there alone himself to take the 
consequences of an accident and to reverse the engines if required 
after the shock. The Florida was run down according to the plan 
of the commander but owing to some error in handling the Wachm- 
sett the blow struck was a glancing one and did no great damage to 
the privateer beyond carrying away her mizzen mast and main 
yard; a few volleys of small arms were exchanged, and upon the 
discharge of two of the Waehusett's broadside guns the Florida 
surrendered and was towed out of the harbor by her captor, the 
Brazilian forts firing upon the Wadkusett as she went out, A seri- 
ous complication grew out of the affair, ending in an apology made 
by our government to Brazil and an agreement to return the Florida 
to the port where she had been captured. While preparing at 
Hampton Roads for the voyage to Brazil the Florida sank, appa- 
rently by accident, and the return was never made. 

The assistant engineer who courageously volunteered to risk 
his life in the engine-room of the Wackusett when ramming was 
first proposed was George Wallace Melville, who was destined to 
make his name famous at a later period by the exhibition of heroism 
and fortitude of such superior quality as to extend far beyond his 
own individuality and reflect world-wide honor upon the naval ser- 
vice and the nation to which he belonged. Previous to the capture 
of the Florida, Mr. Melville, knowing that his commander was 
desirous of gaining information as to the battery of the enemy's 
ship, attempted to get on board of her in civilian's clothing in the 
guise of a visitor, but was suspected and driven off when he went 
alongside ; this act in itself was far from commonplace, for the pen- 
alty for being in the enemy's country or on board an enemy's ship 
in plain clothes in time of war was well known by him. 

The evening of December 9th the double-ender Otsego, of the 
Sassacus class, ran upon two torpedoes near Jamesville in the Roan- 
oke river and was sunk, no lives being lost, she being at the time a 
member of a flotilla sent up the river to attack a battery at Rainbow 
Bluff. Lieutenant Commander H. N. T. Arnold, the commanding 
officer, in his report of the disaster expressed his indebtedness to 


the senior engineer, Mr. Samuel 0. Midlam, who had advised and 
rigged a torpedo net over the bow which had saved the Otsego on 
two occasions by picking up torpedoes, but was unavailing against 
those that finally destroyed the vessel, they being struck when she 
had rounded to preparatory to anchoring and were not under the 

Towards the close of the year a great fleet was assembled under 
commander Bear Admiral Porter to co-operate with General B. F. 
Butler in an attack upon the immense fortification known as Fort 
Fisher on Federal Point at the mouth of Cape Fear Kiver, North 
Carolina. An unusual method of making war was attempted on 
this occasion, the result of which exposed both Porter and Butler to 
considerable ridicule, although General Butler is said to have been 
the instigator of the plan. An accidental explosion of a powder 
magazine in England not long before had done so much damage 
to the neighborhood that the idea was conceived of adopting the same 
means to ' ' paralyze ' ' the enemy or destroy his works by concus- 
sion. Accordingly the purchased screw gun-vessel Louisiana, 
which had cost only ^35,000 in 1861 and which was pretty well 
worn out by constant service in the North Carolina Sounds, was 
converted into a torpedo on a huge scale by being loaded with an 
enormous quantity of powder arranged in cells to facilitate its sim- 
ultaneous explosion. The crew of this dangerous floating mine 
consisted of Commander A. C. Khind, Lieutenant S. W. Preston, 
Second Assistant Engineer Anthony T. E. Mullen, Master's Mate 
Paul Boyton, and eleven enlisted men, all volunteers from Ehind's 
vessel — the Agawam. Admiral Porter referred to the mission in 
his report of the attack as ' ' the most perilous adventure that was, 
perhaps, ever undertaken," and recommended that the officers be 
promoted, adding that no one in the squadron expected them to 
survive their expedition. 

The night of December 23rd the powder vessel was towed by 
the Wilderness to a position close to Fort Fisher where she was 
cast off, and, though literally a powder-magazine from stem to 
stern, proceeded under her own steam to within three hundred yards 
of the beach under the walls of the fort, trusting to her disguise as 
a blockade runner to escape being fired into. Having anchored un- 
molested, the fuzes and fires for causing the explosion were lighted, 


these having been arranged, as stated in Commander fthind's 
report, by Engineer Mullen. The crew then left her by boat and 
boarded the Wilderness, that vessel going at full speed to join the 
fleet lying twelve miles off shore to be beyond reach of the catas- 
trophe that was supposed would occur. The explosion took place 
about 1.30 a. m. and resulted in nothing; ithe men in Fort Fisher 
were disturbed in their sleep, but no one was paralyzed and no 
earthworks were jarred down, while the sound was scarcely heard 
by the people in the fleet intently listening for it. The reward 
extended to Mr. Mullen for his share in this perilous enterprise was 
very considerable, he receiving a week later the following letter 
from the Secretary of the Navy: 

" Sik: As a recognition of your gallant conduct while attached 
to the Louisiana you have permission to present yourself to Chief 
Engineer Newell, at the navy yard, Philadelphia, for examination 
for promotion. ' ' 

Mr. Mullen at the time was number ninety -two on the list of 
second assistant engineers and his advancement to the foot of the 
list of first assistants, which occurred immediately after his examin- 
tion, is belived to be the most substantial reward for distinguished 
service conferred upon any staff officer during the war. 

On the 24th of December Admiral Porter gave the fort a ter- 
rific battering and silenced its fire for the time being, but no im- 
portant results followed, as General Butler with the troop-ships was 
not present to follow up the advantage. Porter's attacking force 
consisted of thirty-seven war-vessels, ranging in size from the New 
Ironsides, Wabash, Colorado and Powhatan down to the double- 
enders Sassacus and Machvn,aw and the ninety-day gunboats TTna- 
dilla and Chippewa, lying in semi-circular formation about one mile 
distant from the fort. The monitors Monadnoch, Mahopac, Saugus 
and Canonieus were in this line of battle and did great execution 
with their heavy guns, they and the New Ironsides lying a consid- 
erable distance inside the one-mile circle. Besides the fighting 
line, a reserve division of nineteen vessels, all purchased merchant 
steamers, laid further out and did not take part in the attack. 

The army transports came the next day (Christmas) and the 


attack was renewed, General Butler landing some of his troops 
under cover and with the assistance of about twenty of the gun- 
vessels. He, however, gave up the plan of attack and began re- 
embarking his men after a few thousands had landed, an act that 
was the beginning of a bitter controversy between him and Admiral 
Porter, prosecuted by both as long as they lived. During the two 
days the vessels suffered slightly from the fire of the fort, their 
chief losses resulting from the bursting of their own guns, about 
forty-five officers and men being killed or wounded by the bursting 
of 100-pounder Parrott rifles. On the Juniata Lieutenant Wemple 
and four men were killed and Paymaster Caspar Schenck and seven 
men wounded in this manner; the Tioonderoga had eight killed and 
eleven wounded in the same way, and similar casualties, but with 
less loss of life, occurred to the Mackinaw, Yantic and Quaker 
Oity. An idea of the magnitude of the bombardment may be 
gained from the fact that the Colorado alone fired 1,569 heavy shot 
and shell the first day, and 1,226 the second day. 


"And in this faith all went to their posts, prepared to obey the regulations and 
'fight courageously' ; for in a fleet where a single shell, exploding in the boiler of a 
vessel, might subject the engineers and firemen to the fate of Marsyas, or a tor- 
pedo or infernal, exploding under her bottom, send all hands journeying ad astra, no 
one could properly be considered a non-combatant. 

"Commodore Foxhall A. Parker — Battle of Mobile Bay." 

1864. The Civil War, Continued— Naval Operations in the North Carolina Sounds — 
The Earn Albemarle— Sinking of the Southfield and defeat of the MiAin — 
The Naval Battle of May Fifth — Disaster to the Sassacus and Heroism of Her 
Chief Engineer — Daring Attempt of Enlisted Men to Destroy the Ram — Her 
Destruction by Lieutenant Win. B. Cushing — Battle and Capture of Plymouth 
— Prize Money Distributed on Account of the Albemarle. 

MENTION has been made in former chapters of the capture of 
the fortified posts of the enemy on the large sounds lying 
along the coast of North Carolina, and of the constant warfare waged 
thereafter by the national war-vessels to keep possession of what 
had been gained. This region, remote as it was from the battle- 
grounds of the war, was not of direct importance to the Federals as 
its occupation could have little influence upon the strategical com- 
binations being attempted by the armies in distant fields, but from 
the Confederate point of view the situation was very different : to 
them possession of these waters and ports meant a source of supply 
from Europe, through the medium of blockade-runners, of clothing, 
medicines, arms, and other war supplies, and an almost perfect facil- 
ity for the distribution of such articles by the many rivers and 
water-ways flowing into the sounds. Thus it was that Federal pol- 
icy required the seizure and retention of the entire region, while 
Confederate necessity dictated a ceaseless struggle for the recovery 
of what had been lost early in the war. 

The theatre of operations for the naval force assigned to this 
region was geographically small compared with the vast extent of 
coasts and rivers on which the navy had to operate, but it was large 
enough to afford very active employment, and to require the most 


untiring vigilance on the part of the small force there charged with 
the task of maintaining Federal supremacy. The vessels sent into 
these waters were called gunboats by courtesy, but as a rule they 
were a sorry lot, being generally purchased steamers, tugs, or ferry- 
boats, armed and protected as well as the nature of their construc- 
tion would allow ; owing to the shallowness of the waters in which 
they had to operate they were necessarily small, uutil the naval 
authorities had had time to build light-draft gunboats, when some 
side- wheel vessels of considerable size, built expressly for war pur- 
poses, found their way into the Sounds. The officers and men 
aboard these vessels were a fair average of the naval personnel of the 
period ; mostly volunteers, with a sufficient sprinkling of the "old 
navy" both before and abaft the mast to keep alive the traditions 
and maintain the rigid rules of the service. Volunteer officers 
commanded some of the smaller vessels, and the subordinate officers, 
almost without exception, were of this class ; the larger vessels were 
generally commanded by regular officers, usually lieutenants and 
lieutenant-commanders. Chief among these C. W. Flusser and 
W. B. Oushing, whose exploits read like romance as well as his- 
tory. They were young : Flusser, who at times was the ranking 
officer in the Sounds, was about thirty, while Oushing was barely of 
age, yet these young men accepted responsibilities and dealt with 
questions of policy, the gravity of which in these days would be re- 
garded great enough to warrant consideration by a board of 

The conditions of service were vastly different from the ideal 
naval life of the period; the lofty frigate shortening sail and clearing 
for action under the blue sky far out in the open sea was then the 
symbol of naval glory, but no such spectacle cheered the eyes and 
exalted the patriotism of the seamen in the Carolina Sounds. The 
vessels were small and smoky, redolent of engine oil and innocent 
of snowy canvass and glistening spars; instead of the bright blue sea 
of nautical romance, one saw the muddy, shallow flood of the far- 
reaching inland waters, stained and poisoned by the ooze and vege- 
table decay swept down by numberless rivers and creeks from the 
surrounding swamps. The great peninsula between Pamlico and 
Albemarle Sounds was a vast miasmatic swamp; stretching north- 
ward from Albemarle Sound lay the deadly and forbidding morass 


known as the Dismal Swamp, the character of which was the type of 
all the region lying adjacent to the Sounds. Thomas Moore, who 
visited this country early in the present century, described the physi- 
cal characteristics of more than one locality in verse that will live as 
long as our language lasts, and in his beautiful ballad called " The 
Lake of the Dismal Swamp," narrating the legend of the youth who 
sought the firefly lamp and white canoe of his dead sweetheart in the 
depths of the Dismal Swamp, occurs the two following verses 
that describe the nature of the region far better than can any prose 

■' Away to the Dismal Swamp he speeds, — 

His path was rugged and sore; 
Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds, 
Through many a fen where the serpent feeds, 

And man never trod before! 

" And when on earth he sank to sleep, 

If slumber his eyelids knew, 
He lay where the deadly vine doth weep 
Its venomous tear, and nightly steep 

The flesh with blistering dew! " 

Such, then, were the surroundings of the Federal naval force 
and the material with which it had to operate; both doubtless very 
different from what the officers would have wished. But the country 
was at war, and whatever came to each man's hand that was he ex- 
pected to do with all his might; so these gentlemen abandoned the 
dreams of romantic adventures at sea acquired by reading Cooper 
and the "Naval Monument," took off their white gloves, folded 
away their finely starched linen, and went to work. 

Frequent attempts by the Confederate land forces to recapture 
the sea-ports of the Sounds came to naught, principally on account 
of the persistent presence of the little gunboats and their wicked 
habit of throwing large quantities of shells into the woods where the 
attacking forces were making their approaches; while boat attacks 
and guerilla warfare from the shore directed at the gunboats simply 
served to provoke Flusser and the other commanders to more vigor- 
ous hostility, and to teach the enemy that the gunboats would have 
to be assailed with some more powerful weapon than had yet been 


used against them if they were to' be defeated. The fruit of this les- 
son was the Albemarle. She was built in the woods at Edward's 
Ferry on the Eoanoke River, some forty miles above Plymouth, by 
Mr. Gilbert Elliot, from designs prepared by John L. Porter, who 
was the chief constructer of the Confederate navy, and who had been 
a naval constructer in the United States navy before the war. The 
hull was shallow, or ' ' flat, ' ' built of eight- inch by ten-inch frame 
timbers sheathed with four-inch planking; near the water-line the 
sides were protected by a belt of several courses of squared logs 
bolted on longitudinally, and corresponding in some degree to the 
armor belt worn by modern battle-ships; the bow was developed for- 
ward into a solid oaken beak plated with two-inch iron and tapered 
to an edge. On the water-line the craft was one hundred and twenty- 
two feet long (which is sixteen feet less than the length of our mod- 
ern torpedo boat Oushmg), and the breadth of beam was forty-five 
feet. On the central part of the deck the full width of the boat and 
sixty feet in length fore and aft stood the superstructure or case- 
mate; this was of heavy squared timbers inclined at an angle of almost 
sixty degrees to the vertical, sheathed with heavy planking and two 
layers of two-inch iron plates; the timbers at the forward part of the 
casemate were carried up above the flat top high enough to form the 
framing of a conning-tower of truncated pyramidal form. The corners 
of the main central structure were cut off, making its deck plan an 
oblong octagon. Inside the casemate at each end was mounted a 
100-pounder rifled gun, one a Brooke, the other a Whitworth; each 
gun was pivoted to fire out of its end port and out of a port 
on each broadside. The vessel had twin-screws, each screw driven 
by an engine of only two hundred horse-power. The draft of water 
when ready for service was eight feet. From this description the 
Albemarle will be recognized as a typical Confederate war-vessel, 
differing from the Merrimac, Atlanta or Tennessee in no important 
particular except that of size. 

In the spring of 1864 the Albemarle was ready for service, and 
on April 18 she dropped down the Koanoke River to within about 
three miles of Plymouth ; her engine-power was so feeble and her 
steering qualities so bad that it was found impossible to keep her in 
the channel when going ahead with the current, so she came down 
the river backward dragging chains from her bows. The command- 


ing officer was Captain J. W. Cooke, of the Confederate navy, whose 
name stood at the head of the list of lieutenants of the old navy 
when the war broke out in 1861. After anchoring, a lieutenant was 
sent out to explore the river in the vicinity of Plymouth, he return- 
ing in about two hours with the report that the river was so ob- 
structed with piles, sunken vessels, and torpedoes that it would be 
impossible to pass down. Fires were then banked and port 
watches set. Mr. Elliott, the builder of the vessel, was on board 
as a volunteer aide to the captain, and be seems to have been more 
anxious to see his fabric get into a fight than was anyone else con- 
nected with her ; he took the pilot, two seamen, and a small boat 
and proceeded to examine the obstructions with a long pole, finding 
to his great delight that there was a place near the middle of the 
river, wide enough for the ram to pass through, where there was 
ten feet of water ; this was due to a remarkable freshet, the water 
being higher in the river that night than it had been known to be 
for many years. He returned to the Albemarle about one o'clock in 
the morning and reported his discovery to the captain, who imme- 
diately resolved to go out. All hands were quietly called, fires 
spread, and when all was ready she proceeded slowly down the 
river, being fired on in the darkness by the Union batteries about 
Plymouth as she passed. 

Meantime, Flusser, in command of the Miami, with the South- 
field, Ceres, and Whitehead in company, had been in action all day 
of April 18, aiding the garrison of Plymouth in resisting the attack 
of a large body of Confederates. The Miami was a paddle-wheel 
gunboat of about seven hundred and thirty tons, carrying six IX- 
inch guns, one 100-pounder Parrott rifle, and one 24-pounder how- 
itzer; the Southfield was a ferry-boat, but had a very respectable 
battery (five IX-inch guns, one 100-pounder rifle, and one 12- 
pounder howitzer) ; the Ceres and Whitehead were merely armed tug- 
boats of less than one hundred and fifty tons each. The Miami 
and Southfield anchored for the night below Plymouth, the two 
smaller vessels lying higher up to watch for the ram, which was 
known to be abroad. In reporting the result of the day's fight- 
ing, Flusser wrote that night that he expected the ram down at 
any moment, and that he thought he could whip her. This was his 
last letter : he had already come within the range of vision of the 


Fates, and she of the open shears was about to close them and sever 
the thread of his life. 

With the dawn came the Albemarle. During the night the 
Miami and Southfield had been lashed together, and with the first 
warning of the coming of the foe, which was given by the Ceres at 
3:45 a. m., they got under way and steamed up the river at full 
speed with the intention of ramming. The advantage of this com- 
bination is not manifest, although the majority of naval writers who 
have described this affair pass over it without comment, apparently 
accepting it as a proper arrangement. Admiral Ammen, in his 
book regarding the naval operations on the Atlantic coast, says that 
he is at a loss to understand the rationale of lashing two vessels 
together and using them as a ram. The Albemarle avoided the at- 
tack by running close in to the southern shore, and then, turning 
towards mid- stream, taking advantage of the swift current, and 
using all the steam power she had, she rushed at her antagonists, 
striking the Miami a glancing blow on the port bow and crushing 
into the starboard side of the Southfield so far that her beak ap- 
peared in the fire-room. The Southfield immediately sank, drag- 
ging the bow of the Albemarle which was tangled in her side, down 
so far that the forward deck of the ram was deeply submerged, and 
water poured in torrents through the port-holes in the forward part 
of the casement. When the Southfield touched bottom she rolled 
over away from the ram, and this disentangled the vessels and al- 
lowed the latter to resume an even keel. While this was taking 
place the Albemarle, being partially between the two Union vessels, 
was fiercely assailed by the great gun and small-arm fire of both, 
but she did no firing herself except with small arms. The projec- 
tiles fired at point-blank range struck fire on the sloping sides of the 
Albemarle, and flew harmlessly off high up into the air, or were 
broken in pieces to fly back on the decks of the vessels whence they 
came. From the engagement of the previous day the guns of the 
Miami were loaded with shell, and this circumstance proved fatal 
to her commanding officer. With his usual zeal and courage this 
officer had personally taken charge of his battery and fired the guns 
himself, being instantly killed and badly mangled by pieces of the 
third shell he fired, it having rebounded from the enemy's side and 


The pressure of the ram between the two Federal vessels had 
parted the forward lashings, and as the Sovihfield was sinking the 
after lashings were cut or cast adrift, leaving the Miami unencum- 
bered. After getting clear of the wreck of the Southfield the Albe- 
marle backed off preparatory to striking the Miami, which vessel, 
at the same time, having swung around to starboard, began back- 
ing her engines to straighten herself in the current and keep off the 

Acting Volunteer Lieutenant C. A. French, who had been in 
command of the Southfield, and who with six officers and about 
thirty men had come aboard the Miami over the stern as his own 
vessel sank, had now assumed command of the Miami, and know- 
ing that it would be folly to further resist the ram when the fire of 
his guns had no effect upon her armor, and where there was not 
room to avoid her terrible beak, he withdrew to the open water at 
the mouth of the river, the Albemarle doggedly following for some 
distance and receiving the fire of the Miami with unconcern. 

Besides the people of the Southfield who got on board the 
Miami, a few others escaped by boat and were picked up by the 
Geres and Whitehead; the remainder got ashore, where some fell 
into the hands of the enemy, and some ultimately escaped by 
hiding in the swamps. Flusser was the only person killed on the 
Miami ; but that vessel had one ensign, two assistant engineers, and 
nine enlisted men wounded, mostly by pieces of her own shells. In 
the engagements of the two previous days the Geres had one fireman 
killed and three assistant engineers, one master's mate, and four 
men wounded. 

The Albemarle having thus obtained command of the river, 
preparations were at once made by General Hoke for assaulting the 
Federal fortifications about Plymouth, which assault was success- 
fully made the next day (April 20), but not without severe loss, 
Ransom's brigade alone leaving five hundred killed and wounded 
men on the field in front of the breastworks east of the town. All 
day long the Albemarle held the river front and poured shell into 
the Federal intrenchments. Thus far the Albemarle was a success. 
She had accomplished the first act of her mission to wrest the waters 
of North Carolina from the invader, and within the limits of her in- 
tended field of operations she was the symbol of what men call the 


dominion of the seas. Of the places remaining liable to her attack, 
Newbern was by far the most important, as the Union forces had 
recently been making it an important depot and supply station, and 
even as early as the time with which we are dealing stores were be- 
ing assembled there in anticipation of the last stages of the grand 
movement of Sherman' s army through Georgia, and then northward 
through the Carolinas. So the capture of Newbern was a more of 
vast importance to the Confederacy, and one to be prevented by the 
Federals at any cost. 

News of the disaster at Plymouth traveled quickly, and the 
Navy Department made all haste to get a sufficient force into the 
Sounds to resist the progress of the Albemarle towards Newbern. 
One of the vessels hurriedly ordered to the scene of hostilities was 
the Sassacus, whose movements we \rill now follow. Lieutenant- 
Commander (now Rear Admiral) F. A. Roe was in command. The 
Sassaeus left Hampton Roads just before midnight of Friday. April 
22, and anchored at Hatteras Inlet at 6 the following evening ; on 
Monday, the 25th. she crossed Hatteras bar. and soon after went 
aground on a sand-bar a mile inside known as the "Bulkhead," 
where she was delayed about twelve hours, and was disabled for a 
time by the condenser being filled with sand. Once inside the 
Sounds, she first visited ^Newbern, then the post on Roanoke Island, 
and finally, on May 3. went with other vessels up to the vicinity of 
Plymouth in the western end of Albemarle Sound. 

Captain Melancthon Smith had been selected by the Xavy De- 
partment to assume command of the naval forces in the Sounds, with 
special orders to devote his energies to the destruction of the Albe- 
marle. The force he now had with him in Albemarle Sound con- 
sisted of the double-enders 3fattabe$$ett . Commander Febiger: iSa^sa- 
cus, Lieutenant-Commander Roe : WyalusitU!. Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Queen, and Miami, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant French ; 
the armed ferry-boat Commodore Hull. Acting Master Josselyn, and 
the little gunboats Ctres and Whitehead, commanded by Acting Mas- 
ter Foster and Acting Ensign Barrett respectively. The Mattabt-ssett 
was the flag-ship. In Captain Smith's order of battle, issued on 
May 2, the Mattabessett. $a$$acu$, Wyalwing, and miittJiead-, in the 
order named, were constituted the first or right line of steamers, the 
Miami being the leader of the second column. A council had been 


held on board the flag-ship when the vessels were in the vicinity of 
Roanoke Island and the methods of attacking the ram discussed ; 
the Department and Sear- Admiral S. P. Lee, who was in command 
of the North Atlantic blockading squadron, seem to have favored 
ramming, but Captain Smith was doubtful of this mode of attack, 
chiefly because of the peculiar construction of the " donble-enders, ' ' 
they having an enclosed rudder in the bow as well as one at the 
stern. Captain Smith was hopeful of disabling the ram by paying 
out seines about her, to be caught and wound up in her propellers. 
Tn the order of battle it was directed that the vessels should pass 
alongside the ram as close as possible and pound her with their 
broadsides, then round to for a second discharge. The Miami, 
which had a torpedo fitted to her bow, was to seek every oppor- 
tunity to use it. All vessels were to be ready to throw powder and 
shell down the ram's smoke-pipe, and also to have the fire-hose 
ready for throwing water into the smoke-pipe should it be found so 
capped as to prevent the introduction of powder and shell. Bam- 
ming was doubtfully referred to, and was left to the discretion of the 
commanding officers. Bear- Admiral Roe told the writer recently 
that he took the Sassacus into the action that ensued with the firm 
intention of ramming, saying that under the circumstances he be- 
lieved it would be a good trade if he could disable the enemy by 
" expending his vessel, his crew, and himself." 

At " turn to " after the men's dinner hour on May 5 the Miami, 
Commodore Hull, Geres, and army transport Trumpeter got under way 
from their station in Edenton Bay, and steamed across the end of the 
Sound with the intention of planting torpedoes in the mouth of 
Roanoke River. When within a short distance of the buoy at the 
mouth of the river the Albemarle was discovered coming down, ac- 
companied by the steamer Cotton Plant laden with troops, and the 
captured army gunboat Bombshell with coal and stores. The Trum- 
peter was dispatched as a herald in haste to give warning to the 
squadron lying about ten miles down the Sound, and the Miami and 
consorts, in accordance with previous instructions, slowly retired be- 
fore the foe to take their places in the plan of battle as the second 
line as before described. 

It was a beautiful day, clear and still, and as the Albemarle 
emerged from the river and moved slowly down the bay she pre- 


sented a spectacle of concentrated, deliberate power that was viewed 
by the anxious watchers in the fleet with anxiety and and misgiving, 
but not with fear. Her iron plates had been covered with grease, 
and shone and glistened in the sun like the scales of a dragon. For- 
midable as the Albemarle seemed, it appears that the Boombshell was 
at first regarded with even more apprehension. She was a steam 
canal-boat, long and flat, formerly in use on the Dismal Swamp 
Canal, but had been converted into a river gunboat by the army 
authorities, and had fallen into the hands of the Confederates at the 
time they captured Plymouth. Her sides were notched or indented 
for the reception of a large number of small field pieces, and in the 
refraction caused by the slanting rays of the hot afternoon sun on the 
shimmering water this novel craft appeared magnified, distorted, and 
unreal to the Union naval officers, few of whom had ever seen her 

As soon as the ram appeared in the Sound the vessels of the 
squadron began getting under way to form order of battle to meet 
her, and in this a delay of about half an hour occurred on account 
of the unreadiness of the flagship. The chief engineers of all ves- 
sels in the squadron had received orders to keep their fires in readi- 
ness for steaming at a moment's notice, which order had been sup- 
plemented later by another enjoining economy in the use of coal, 
schooners with a supply of the latter having failed to appear when 
due. The two orders were successfully reconciled by all the chief 
engineers, upon whom their execution devolved, except in the case 
of the Mattabessett, on which vessel an allowance of coal had been 
fixed by authority superior to the engineer and, as it proved, so 
small as to prevent the maintenance of the fires in a condition for 
use. The result was that when the enemy did appear, the Matta- 
bessett was found wanting, and was indebted only to the slow speed 
of the enemy for being able to get into her position at the head of 
the first column before the ram was upon them. After the engage- 
ment the chief engineer of the Mattabessett, Mr. John T. Hawkins, 
was suspended from duty for the delay that had occurred, but as he 
had written a letter to his commanding officer informing him of the 
insufficiency of the coal allowance, he had reason to believe him- 
self unjustly treated, and his view was supported by a court of 
inquiry which acquitted him of all blame in the matter. 


At 4.40 p. m. the Albemarle opened the battle by firing a 
Brooke shell, which tore the launch of the Mattabessett into splinters 
and wounded several men, following it quickly by a second, which 
did considerable damage to the rigging. The Albemarle being 
headed directly for the Mattabessett with the intention of ramming, 
that vessel starboarded her helm and circled around the ram to port, 
giving her a broadside at very close range as she passed, afterward 
putting her helm to port to come on around the enemy's stern. As 
she crossed the wake of the Albemarle she came close up to the 
Bombshell, fired into that vessel and received her surrender, accord- 
ing to the official reports. Failing to strike the Mattabessett, the ram 
turned on the Sassaeus, and that vessel narrowly escaped being 
rammed as she followed the lead of the flag-ship, she pouring in her 
fire against the iron sides of the enemy as she passed; then, with a 
port helm, she rounded the stern of the Albemarle, and fired a broad- 
side into the Bombshell still lying there, which vessel in answer to a 
hail said she surrendered, at the same time hauling down the Con- 
federate flag. The Wyahising coming on next in line made a move 
to ram the Bombshell, learning only just in time to avoid striking 
that luckless craft that she had surrendered. 

There was a controversy afterward as to whether the Bombshell 
had surrendered to the Mattabessett or the Sassaeus, but the weight 
of evidence from the official reports, viewed at this distance by one 
who has no interest in the dispute beyond a desire to get at the facts, 
points to the conclusion that the Sassaeus was the captor. When 
the battle was over, the crew of the Bombshell was on board the 
Sassaeus. The engine-room log-book of the Sassaeus records the 
fact that in the eight to twelve watch that evening an assisant 
engineer and some engine-room men went on board the prize to take 
charge of the machinery. Lieutenant Hudgins, who had commanded 
the Bombshell, when asked about the matter and not knowing that 
there was any dispute about it, replied readily that he had surren- 
dered to the second in line, which was the Sassaeus. 

As the first column of vessels passed around the starboard side 
of the Albemarle that vessel kept turning towards them with her 
helm aport until by the time the Mattabessett and Sassaeus had gotten 
well across her wake she had turned almost around and was headed 
in the opposite direction, that is, towards the mouth of the river 


whence she came. This turn brought the Mattabessett, which vessel 
had continued on in her circling course, constantly firing, almost 
astern, while the Sassacus, thrown considerably out of line by her 
affair with the Bombshell, was almost abeam of the ram, and at a 
distance given at from three hundred to five hundred yards in the 
various reports. Roe saw the chance for which he hoped, and 
shouted to his navigator, ' ' Can you strike her ?" ' ' 'Yes, ' ' answered 
Boutelle. "Then go for her!" As before stated, Commander 
Roe intended to ram if he got a chance, and this intention he had 
communicated to his officers. Mr. Boutelle, as the navigator or 
sailing-master, had entered into an understanding with Mr. Hobby, 
the chief engineer, to inform him should the attempt be made. 
Accordingly, after ringing the signal for full speed and laying the 
course for the enemy, he went to the engine-room skylight and 
shouted down to Hobby that the time had come. 

There was then a pressure of thirty pounds in the boilers, which 
was ten pounds, or about fifty per cent., more than usually carried ; 
the steam valves were set to cut off at about half stroke. In order 
to utilize the full force of the steam, the chief engineer resorted to 
an expedient known as ' ' gagging ' ' the engine, the hand working- 
gear being called into play to hold the steam valves open after their 
automatic closing had been effected by the toes on the rock-shaft. 
This was a task requiring a quick eye, good judgment and a high 
order of courage and self-reliance, for an error in working the valves 
of a fraction of a second at either end of the stroke would have de- 
feated the object and destroyed the power of the engine by opposing 
pressure on both sides of the piston, while the danger of disaster in 
thus driving a heavy engine at an abnormal pressure was great. 
Mr. Hobby, however, had sufficient self-confidence and nerve to 
assume all risks involved, and imposed upon himself this dangerous 
post in order to get the greatest power from his machine and conse- 
quently the greatest speed from the ship. He thus became the 
active agent in driving the ship onward, just as an oarsman urges 
forward a racing boat, except that in his case the power of eight 
hundred horses followed up each motion of the lever that he con- 
trolled, and instead of moving a small boat he was giving momentum 
to a projectile weighing nearly twelve hundred tons with which to 
strike the enemy. 

8 SB 

W lO 



The Sassacus struck the Albemarle squarely abaft her starboard 
beam, and in line with the after end of the casemate, with a speed 
of nine or ten knots, the engines making twenty-two revolutions 
with thirty pounds of steam. The force of the blow drove the 
bronze stem of the Sassacus several feet into the timber belt of her 
antagonist and in all probability started her to leaking. The ram 
heeled considerably over towards the side on which she had been 
struck, so much so in fact that a quantity of large stones lying on 
her after-deck, probably to weigh her down to bring her knuckle 
into the water, fell overboard, making a great racket as they tumbled 
and slid across the deck. Hoping to ride her enemy down, the 
Sassacus kept her engines running ahead at full speed while in con- 
tact (about thirteen minutes), a furious fire of small-arms being 
maintained during that period. The constant pressure against the 
ram considerably abaft her centre of gravity tended to swing her 
around, which tendency was overcome to some extent by her own 
motion in going ahead, but eventually the resultant of these two 
forces so changed the angle between the ships that the starboard 
battery of each could be used, which advantage was quickly availed 
of by both; as soon as the Sassacus came under the range of the 
Albemarle's guns the after one was fired, its shot passing diagonally 
through the berth- deck, but doing no material damage; this shot 
was immediately followed by a similar one from the forward gun, 
which shot, entering the Sassaous abreast of the foremast four feet 
above the water on the starboard side, crushed obliquely through 
the side, cutting throught the back of a hanging- knee and leaving 
the inside of the ceiling about seven and one-half feet abaft where 
it first struck on the outside. From thence it passed through the 
throat of the next hanging-knee, through the dispensary and bulk- 
head, starboard coal-bunker, passing on through the starboard 
boiler, and, keeping on through the engine-room, cut in two a 
three-inch stanchion, thence through steerage and wardroom bulk- 
heads, smashing doors and sideboard, cutting through magazine- 
screen, when, striking an oak stanchion, — which it splintered, — it 
glanced at right angles and lodged in one of the starboard state- 

The havoc wrought in the engine-room by this shot is best 
told by the engine-room log for the first dog-watch of that eventful 


' 'About 6 p. m. she succeeded in getting clear of us and fired a 
solid shot, which passed through the berth- deck and forward coal- 
bunker, then entering forward end of starboard boiler seven feet 
from front and fourteen inches from top, passing out the after end 
three feet from front and fourteen inches from top, cutting away in 
its passage stays, T-irons, and dry-pipe and steam and exhaust-pipes 
for Woodward pump ; then passed the length of engine-room between 
cylinder and condenser, cutting away a three-inch stanchion and dis- 
charge-water thermometer, and badly bending exhaust unhooking 
gear; thence through after bulkhead. The rush of steam was in- 
stantaneous, driving all hands out of the engine and fire-room, kill- 
ing Thomas Johnson, coal-heaver, instantly and severely scalding 
First Assistant Engineer J. M. Hobby and the following men." 
Then follow the names of fourteen firemen and coal-heavers, and 
some other information, including the statement that the engines 
continued to run on a vacuum until 6.35 v. m. 

Pandemonium then reigned. The howl of the escaping steam 
from the overcharged boilers completely drowned all other sounds, 
even the discharge of the guns, while the steam gathered in a dense 
cloud over the ship, shutting off her vision so completely that the 
enemy close alongside could not be seen. The men on deck were 
bewildered by the sudden calamity and demoralized at the horrible 
spectacle of their scalded comrades rushing up from below frantic 
and screaming in agony. Order was finally restored by the officers 
leading the men to repel boarders on the starboard bow, although 
there is no record that any attempt was made by the enemy to board. 
The men being thus reorganized were returned to their guns, and 
began firing again as soon as the ram could be seen, the first proof 
to the on-lookers in the surrounding ships that the Sassacus was not 
destroyed being the bright flash of her guns bursting out of the cloud 
that hung over her. The annals of naval warfare contain few in- 
stances of persistence and dauntless courage in adversity that can 
match this exhibition made by the Sassacus. The interval during 
which the engines continued to run was availed of to get the ship 
clear of the enemy and out of the way of the other gunboats so they 
would be free to attack: in getting clear the starboard paddle-wheel 
rode over the stern guard of the Albemarle and was " tangled up 







like a cobweb," as Admiral Eoe expressed it to the writer. The 
false stem of the Sassacus was so bent out of line that she steered 
very badly, and on her subsequent voyage to Hampton Roads she 
was obliged to steam backward in consequence. 

In the midst of all the horrors before described, the chief en- 
gineer, although badly scalded, stood with heroism at his post ; nor 
did he leave it until after the action was over, when he was brought 
up helpless to the deck. For some reason, which is not clearly 
stated in any of the reports, it was impossible to cut off the connec- 
tion between the two boilers, so that steam from the port boiler, 
rapidly generated by the fierce fires in its furnaces, continued to 
pour out of the holes in the other boiler, thus maintaining the cloud 
that hung over the ship and embarrassing her movements ; in this 
emergency Mr. Hobby saw that the fires must be hauled, not only 
to stop the out-rush of steam, but also to prevent the complete dis- 
abling of the ship by burning the sound boiler, not to mention the 
danger from its possible explosion. By his voice and example, in- 
jured as he was, he rallied some of his men and led them into the 
fire-room, where the necessary work was done, he doing a good 
part of it personally with his scalded hands. So modest was this 
brave man that in his official report of the engagement he dismisses 
this incident with the following words : ' ' The steam so filled the 
engine and fire-rooms that it was with the greatest exertions on the 
part of the engineers that the fires were hauled." In those days of 
war, when all on board a ship were equally exposed to danger, and 
when all contributed to the fighting qualities of the ship as a unit, it 
was customary to accord credit for duty well done to all deserving 
it, irrespective of corps : accordingly we find in the reports of the 
commander of the Sassacus that praise for the conduct of Mr. Hobby 
which is always accorded by one brave man to another who has 
shared the danger and assisted to his utmost in an endeavor common 
to both. In the hurried report made at midnight after the battle 
occurs the following: "The chief engineer, Mr. Hobby, is badly 
scalded, but most nobly and heroically remained at his post, and 
saved us from a worse disaster, of explosion to the other boiler 
and of being helpless." 

In the fuller and more complete report made by Lieutenant- 


Commander Koe the following day, he speaks highly of all his offi- 
cers, and of the chief engineer in the following terms : 

" To the heroism and devotion of First Assistant Engineer 
J. M. Hobby the government is probably indebted for the preserva- 
tion of the Sassams from a worse disaster. While every one who 
could was forced to seek safety by flight from the scalding clouds of 
steam, Mr. Hobby stood at his post by the machinery, and though 
fearfully scalded himself, he L cared for his machinery until the 
engine finally stopped. If it were possible to promote this officer, 
I earnestly and devoutly beg it may be done, for I consider that it 
has been amply and professionally won." 

The medical journal of the Sassams shows that Mr. Hobby was 
on the sick list for his injuries about three weeks, and that four of 
the scalded firemen subsequently died. The surgeon attributes the 
comparatively quick recovery of Mr. Hobby from injuries that were 
almost as serious as those of any of the men to the rare presence of 
mind shown by him in covering his burns with oil the moment he 
received them. A very simple remedy, and one that is well worth 

As soon as the Sassams was well clear of her antagonist the en- 
gagement again became general, and the ram was furiously assailed, 
especially after the order of battle had been restored and the vessels 
thus enabled to operate without danger of injuring each other. Shot 
and shell were poured upon the slooping sides of the enemy; seines 
were paid out almost encompassing him, but without success, and 
the Miami tried in vain to use her torpedo, being thwarted in this 
endeavor by her own slow speed and bad steering qualities. Finally, 
as twilight approached, the Albemarle headed up the Sound and pro- 
ceeded slowly to the mouth of the Koanoke Eiver, which she entered 
never again to emerge from. The extent of her damages has never 
been satisfactorily known, but it is certain that she was so much in- 
jured as to be glad to withdraw from the fight, and unwilling to 
renew it on another day. That the blow from the Sassacus did her 
considerable damage cannot be doubted; the muzzle of one of her 
guns was knocked off, although she pluckily continued to use it; 
several shot and shell were believed to have entered her ports, and 


her plaiting was observed to be much injured. An idea of the ter- 
rible pounding she received can be gained from the fact that over 
four hundred and sixty shot and shell were hurled against her at 
close range, this number not including the expenditures of the 
Sassacus, which are not given in the official reports. 

The casualties on the Albemarle, if any, have never been known. 
Those of the Federals were confined to the three largest double- 
enders, and were: Mattabessett, two killed, six wounded; Sassacus, 
one killed, nineteen wounded; Wyalusing, one killed. Included in 
the number of wounded here given are the four firemen of the /Sas- 
sacus and one man of the Mattabessett who subsequently died of their 

The Albemarle returned unmolested to her fastness in the river 
at Plymouth, and, although she was not conquered, the result of 
the engagement may be regarded as a Federal victory, inasmuch as 
the object of the Albemarle was defeated: she had failed to win the 
supremacy of the Sounds, and Newbern remained safe from her 
attack. That all of the vessels in Captain Smith's command that 
were in the engagement performed their share in effecting this re- 
sult is evident from the official reports; but as the details of this 
struggle become dim with the lapse of years since the roar of hostile 
cannon has been heard in Albemarle Sound, there is one point that 
rises above all others and becomes more and more prominent, and 
that is that the Sassacus was the ship that issued boldly forth from 
the line of battle and threw down the gage of single combat to her 
powerful antagonist. If praise is due to one ship more than to 
another we cannot help awarding it to the brave little Sassacus. 

As soon as possible after the Sassacus had dropped out of the 
fight her engineers set to work to repair damages as far as circum- 
stances would permit. Her engine-room log-book shows that the 
necessary alterations in the steam connections were completed, 
water run up in the port boiler, and fires started again in that boiler 
at 10.45 the same evening, and that at 3.30 the next morning, only 
about nine hours after the shot had passed through her boiler, the 
engines were reported ready for service. With the repairs effected 
by her engineers' force the ship remained in the Sounds on active 
service for more than a month, always steaming with one boiler, and 
finally steamed north and went on duty in James River without 
any more extensive repairs. 


When the reports of this engagement had been received and 
considered in Washington, many of the officers of the Sassacus were 
commended by the Navy Department and promoted for gallantry 
in battle. Acting Masters Muldaur and Boutelle were appointed act- 
ing lieutenants; Acting Ensign Mayer, who had personally fought 
the forward pivot rifle, and whose shot was supposed to have been 
the one that knocked the muzzle off one of the enemy's guns, was 
made an acting master, and Acting Assistant Paymaster Barton, who 
had served as signal-officer and aid to the commander during the 
engagement, was appointed an assistant paymaster in the regular 
service. Lieutenant-Commander Roe was advanced five numbers in 
his grade. After reading of the advancement of a number of offi- 
cers of a whole grade, one naturally wonders that their commanding 
officer who had led them in the fight, and whose bravery had made 
their promotion possible, received no greater reward than this; but 
on this matter the records contain . nothing beyond the mere state- 
ment of fact. 

The chief engineer, who had been freely voted the hero of the 
occasion by his associates, was overlooked in the distribution of 
awards and it was not until a year and a half after the battle, the 
war then being many months ended, that he received the recogni- 
tion that was his due and was advanced in his grade in accordance 
with the following notification sent him by the Secretary of the 
Navy : 

" Sib : By and with the advice and consent of the Senate you 
are hereby advanced thirty numbers in your grade, to take rank 
next after First Assistant Engineer Finney, for distinguished con- 
duct in battle, and extraordinary heroism as mentioned in the report 
of Lieutenant Commander Francis A. Roe, commanding the U. S. 
steamer Sassacus in her action with the rebel ram Albemarle on the 
5th of May, 1864. I have the pleasure to transmit herewith your 
warrant, the receipt of which you will acknowledge to the depart- 

' ' Very respectfully, 

" Gideon Welles, 

"Secretary of the Navy.'''' 

The Albemarle remained at Plymouth, inactive but a constant 


menace to the Federals and making necessary the maintenance of a 
large naval force in Albemarle Sound in anticipation of her again 
attempting to dispute the supremacy of those waters. A daring 
attempt to destroy her was made the night of May 25th by 
some of the enlisted men of the Wyalusmg, who conceived an 
excellent plan of attacking her with torpedoes, and were allowed 
to try the experiment without any official oversight or direction. 
The plan, briefly stated, was to get in the river above the ram and 
float down upon her two large torpedoes joined by a line or 
bridle, these after getting across her bows — one on either side — 
to be exploded by means of a hauling line in the hands of a 
man hidden on shore. The torpedoes, containing 100 pounds of 
powder each, were carried by the men on a stretcher through the 
swamps until a proper position was reached, when they were con- 
nected and one of the men, Charles Baldwin, coal-heaver, as- 
sumed the really heroic task of swimming down the river with them 
to guide them upon the Albemarle. The programme was accident- 
ally interrupted by fouling a schooner, and when Baldwin finally got 
within a few yards of the ram he was discovered and fired upon, this 
thwarting the attempt and obliging the men to hide in the depths of 
the neighboring swamps to avoid capture. Three of them got off to 
their ships the second day and the other two, 'two days later, all hav- 
ing suffered much from exposure and hunger. The names of these 
gallant men were John W. Lloyd, coxswain ; Allen Crawford and 
John Laverty, firemen, and Charles Baldwin and Benjamin Lloyd, 
coal-heavers. All received the medal of honor prescribed by Con- 
gress for bravery. 

Late in October Lieutenant William B. Cushing arrived in 
Albemarle Sound with a large steam launch fitted with a spar tor- 
pedo, he having some time before been selected on account of his 
reputation for intrepidity for the perilous undertaking of assailing the 
ram with this instrument of destruction. The launch with the tor- 
pedo and all attached gear had been carefully fitted out at the New 
York navy yard by Chief Engineer William W. W. Wood and First 
Assistant Engineer John L. Lay, the torpedo being known in the 
service by the name of the latter, although it is well known that the 
perfection of its details was the work of Mr. Wood. The crew of the 
picket launch, besides Lieutenant Cushing, consisted of W. L. 


Howarth, acting master's mate; William Stotesbury, acting third 
assistant engineer; Samuel Higgins, first class fireman, and Lorenzo 
Dening, Henry "Wilkes and Eobert H. King, landsmen. When 
ready for the attack this crew was increased by volunteers from the 
ships of the squadron as follows: Francis H. Swan, acting assistant 
paymaster; Charles L. Steever, acting third assistant engineer, and 
Thomas S. Gay, acting master's mate, from the Otsego; William 
Smith, Bernard Hartley and E. J. Houghton, ordinary seamen, from 
the Chicopee; Richard Hamilton, coal-heaver, from the Shamrock; and 
John Woodman, acting master's mate, from the Commodore Hull. 
With these additions the crew numbered fifteen all told. 

The night of October 27th Cushing set out on his mission, 
having the second cutter of the Shamrock with a crew of eleven men 
and two officers in tow, this boat being taken along with the am- 
bitious design of capturing the ram by boarding and bringing her 
out of the river uninjured. When near the ram this part of the pro- 
gramme was frustrated by discovery and the cutter was cast off and 
sent back, her crew boarding the wreck of the Southfield on the way 
down the river and taking as prisoners therefrom four Confederate 
pickets whose neglect of duty had permitted the boats to pass up 
close by them without discovery. Without answering the repeated 
hails from the Albemarle and ignoring the fire of musketry opened 
upon him and by which Paymaster Swan was wounded, Cushing 
steamed up the river past the ram, swept around in a circle, and 
rushed at her bows on, the impact being sufficient to breast in a 
boom of logs about the vessel and reach near enough to use the 
torpedo, which was trained into position and the firing line pulled 
by Cushing, standing on the bow of his boat, just as one of the 
Albemarle's guns directly overhead was depressed and fired. A 
large hole was blown in the side of the ram and she sank at her 
moorings in a short time. 

Kefusing the summons to surrender, Cushing told his men to 
look out for themselves and with them took to the water as their 
launch swamped from the effects of the explosion. Acting Master's 
Mate Woodman and Fireman Higgins were drowned; Cushing and 
Houghton, after much suffering and hardship, regained the squad- 
ron, and the others were made prisoners. In Lieutenant Cushing's 
report he made special reference to the coolness and gallantry of 


Master's Mate Howarth and Engineer Stotesbury. This daring 
achievement led to the capture of Plymouth a few days later, 
removed all apprehension as to the safety of government supplies at 
Newborn, and released for service elsewhere the large squadron of 
vessels that had been kept so long in Albemarle Sound to guard 
against another raid of the ram. Cushing himself received the 
thanks of Congress and was promoted to be a lieutenant commander, 
he being at that time only twenty-one years of age, and all the 
officers who shared the expedition with him were advanced one 
grade for conspicuous gallantry; the enlisted men were advanced 
in ratings and all received the medal of honor for distinguished 
service and bravery. 

Immediately after Cushing 's return with the tidings of the sink- 
ing of the Albemarle, Commander Macomb, in command of the 
squadron known as the Naval Division of the Sounds of North Car- 
olina, moved against Plymouth, but because of sunken vessels in the 
Roanoke River could not approach close enough to deliver the attack 
successfully. He then took his vessels by way of a branch outlet 
into the river above Plymouth and on the 31st of October descended 
upon that place and captured the enemy's batteries after a severe 
and well-fought engagement. Besides Macomb's vessel, the Sham- 
rock, the attacking force consisted of the Otsego, Liedtenant Com- 
mander Arnold; Wyalusing, Lieutenant Commander Earl English; 
Tacowy, Lieutenant Commander W. T. Truxton, all double-enders, 
and the armed ferry-boat Commodore Hull, Acting Master Josselyn. 
The tugs Whitehead, Bazley, and Belle were lashed to the unen- 
gaged sides of the three first named double-enders in accordance 
with the tactics established by Farragut at Port Hudson and Mobile. 
To guard against the distressing casualties and disablement of ships 
that had occurred in other engagements from boilers being struck 
by shot, steam was blown off the boilers on the engaged sides of the 
double-enders and fires in those boilers kept low banked to keep the 
water warm so that steam could be quickly raised when wanted. 
All these vessels, and others generally throughout the navy, were 
fitted by their engineers with appliances for closing the boiler stop- 
valves from deck, the affair of the Sassacus having demonstrated the 
necessity for such precaution. 

The battle at Plymouth took place early in the morning of 


October 31st, and, as before stated, resulted in the capture of the 
enemy's batteries, the town of Plymouth, and the partly submerged 
ram Albemarle. The latter was eventually raised and taken to 
Norfolk, where the material of which the vessel was built was sold 
for the benefit of the Navy Department. In this battle Commander 
Macomb's squadron suffered a loss of six men killed and nine 
wounded, the senior engineer of the Shamrock, Mr. W. H. 
Harrison, being one of the latter. The control of the ships while 
under way and in action in the narrow and intricate river put a 
difficult and responsible duty upon the engineers, which was per- 
formed with credit, as shown by the following complimentary 
references in the reports of commanding officers: 

Shamrock: " The engineers' department, under Second As- 
sistant Engineer W. H. Harrison, was very efficient. ' ' 

Otsego: ' ' The precaution taken by Acting First Assistant En- 
gineer Samuel C. Midlam (in charge of this vessel's engines) to 
meet any mishap that might have occurred to her boilers or engine 
merits my approbation, and the prompt manner in which the whole 
engine corps performed its duty during the engagement was most 
satisfactory and creditable to it." 

Wyalusing: " In conclusion, I cannot refrain from mentioning 
the handsome manner in which the engine was worked, under the 
supervision of Chief Engineer H. H. Stewart, through the whole 
engagement, and likewise on the day previous, while passing the 
narrow bends in Middle river." 

Tacowy: "The engineer's department, under its very efficient 
chief, First Assistant Engineer Thomas M. Dukehart, performed 
its duties in the most satisfactory manner." 

The reward received by Cushing and his crew in the form of 
prize money was very considerable, as the prize law directed that 
when the captured vessel was of superior force to the one making 
the capture, as was the case in this instance, the whole of the prize 
money should be distributed among the captors. In 1865 the Navy 


Department fixed the value of the Albemarle at a little less than 
$80,000, probably very near her true value, which amount was dis- 
tributed to the crew of the picket boat or their heirs, but it after- 
ward transpiring that property, acquired as a result of Cushing's 
exploit, of the net value of $282,856.80 had been applied to public 
use, the case was re-opened by direction of a special act of Con- 
gress and by virtue of the reappraisal Congress appropriated 
$202,912.80, the difference between the former award and the new 
appraisal, which was distributed in 1873. 

The case became very much involved, Cushing being paid on 
the basis of his salary instead of being awarded one-tenth of the 
whole as commander of the capturing vessel, and he and some of the 
other officers had their shares computed upon the rates of pay of the 
higher grades into which they were promoted after the event, while 
others received only the share to which their rate of pay entitled 
them, this latter being the proper apportionment as provided by law. 
As a result of the illegal method followed, some of the beneficiaries 
were very much overpaid, while others suffered in consequence and 
received less than their true shares. The matter finally got before 
Congress in the form of a bill which was favorably reported by the 
Naval committee, but never became a law, and as the original 
appropriation had been distributed those who were wronged got no 
redress. An interesting item connected with the last Congressional 
investigation of the matter was the testimony of Admiral Porter 
before the naval committee, he stating that the Albemarle had cost 
the Confederates $1,500,000, and could not have been built and 
equipped as she was, in Northern shipyards, for less than $800,000, 
which opinion shows that a man may become eminent in a profes- 
sion without being familiar with the practical business details upon 
which it is founded. The following table, taken from the report of 
the naval committee (Keport No. 97; 45th Congress, 2d Session) 
exhibits the actual distribution of this prize money, with the amount 
received by each officer and man, or their heirs, and the amount 
that each was over or underpaid. 






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" An examination of facts is the foundation of science." 

Chas. H. Haswell. 

1864. The Civil War, Continued— New Ships and Machinery Begun— The Serapis 
Class — The Resaca Class — Competitive Machinery of the Quinnebatjg and 
Swataha — The Steomboli, or Spuyten Duyvil — The Light-Draft Monitors 
— Petition of the Engineer Corps Addressed to Congress and its Results. 

THE work of building a great steam navy, so vigorously prose- 
cuted during the three preceding years, went forward in 1864, but 
with a less number of new vessels projected, and of these still fewer 
ever reached completion. One more of the large swift cruisers of 
the Wampanoag class was ordered and the machinery at once begun 
at the Washington navy yard, the keel of this vessel, which was 
given the name of Bon Homme Richard, was never laid, and the 
ship, therefore, never existed except on paper ; but the engines, of 
the 100 -inch geared type, like those of the Wampanoag, were car- 
ried to completion in the course of about four years, and remained 
in store at the Washington yard for many years, being finally broken 
up and the material used for various purposes. 

Eight screw-sloops of 2,400 tons displacement, slightly larger 
than the Shenandoah class, were projected in 1864, and named 
Algoma, Gonfiance, Detroit, Meredosia, Peacock, Serapis, Taghhanic, 
and Talledaga. Of these only one, the Algoma, built at the Kittery 
navy yard, was ever constructed, she being launched in 1868, and 
continued in the service, the name being changed in 1869 to Benicia, 
until 1884, when she was sold at Mare Island for $17,000. The 
Bureau of Steam Engineering, carrying out its instructions, under- 
took the work of building engines for these ships at the navy yards, 
several of the yards being by this time supplied with suitable tools, 
and four sets of the engines required were commenced at each of the 
yards at Boston and New York. They were of the usual Isherwood 
back-acting type, the cylinders being 50 inches diameter by 42 
inches stroke. One pair of these was erected in the Benicia, and 
three pairs went into some vessels built in 1868 — the Alaska, 


Omaha and Plymouth (originally named Kenosha) ; the other four 
sets were converted into compound engines for vessels built or re- 
engined in 1872-1880. 

Six smaller screw-sloops, of what was known as the Resaca 
class, were also projected this year, and four of them were launched 
eventually at navy yards as follows: The /Swatara at Philadelphia, 
May, 1865; the Resaca at Kittery, November, 1865; the Qumne- 
baug at New York, March, 1866; and the Nantasket at Boston, 
August, 1867. The other two, named Alert and Epermer, were never 
built. The four completed were each 216 feet long and about 12 
feet mean draft, the Nantashet and Resaca being 31 feet beam and 
1,129 tons displacement, and the other two 30 feet beam and 1,113 
tons displacement. The engines of the Swatara, Resaca and Nan- 
tasJcet were of the Isherwood design, with cylinders 36 u x36 v \ and 
were built at navy yards, the two former at Washington and the 
latter at Kittery. By direction of Assistant Secretary Fox the 
engines for the Quinnebaug were contracted for in England, with 
Jackson & Watkins, of London, the object of this unusual proceeding 
being to subject the machinery designed by the Bureau of Steam En- 
gineering to a competitive test with that produced by the best English 
practice. The Quinnebaug' 's model was altered for the reception of 
twin screws to suit the English machinery, which consisted of two 
pairs of two-cylinder engines with cylinders 38 inches in diameter 
by 21 inches stroke of piston. The grate surface of the boilers was 
114 square feet, while that of the other, sloops of the class was 210 
each. The English engines were designed on the high expansion 
principle, the valves cutting off at one-fourth stroke, while Isher- 
wood's engines cut off at six-tenths of the stroke. 

The machinery for the Swatara, the sister-ship of the Quinnebaug, 
was nearly completed when the contract for the machinery of the 
latter was made, and the contractors were informed of the exact 
dimensions and arrangement of the machinery against which they 
were to compete. They believed, however, that with twin screws 
and the high rate of expansion adopted, their area of grate surface 
would give better results in speed and economy than the Bureau's 
design. The result was greatly to the disadvantage of the English 
engines. The /Swatara on her steam trial near Hampton Koads 
made twelve geographical miles per hour, while the Qumnebaug's 


best effort in New York harbor was seven geographical miles, both 
vessels burning the same kind of coal and having the same condi- 
tions of trial as nearly as possible. The Quinnebcmg made one 
cruise of about three years' duration on the Brazil station and was 
then laid up; she subsequently was rebuilt and received a pair of the 
50"x42" Isherwood engines, converted into compound engines. 

The Alert and Epervier were never built, but the Bureau of 
Steam Engineering carried out the Department's order and con- 
structed machinery for them, that for the Alert, built at Kittery, 
being exactly like the machinery of Bureau design put into the other 
ships of the class. The Epervier' 's engines were of the same back- 
acting type but the proportional dimensions of the cylinders were 
changed, they being 36 inches in diameter and 48 inches stroke; 
they were built at the Washington navy yard and were of remarkably 
excellent workmanship and quality, the forged parts of them being 
of steel, which was the first use of that material for such purpose in 
our navy or in the engine practice of the country. In 1870 these 
engines were prepared for erection in the Quinnebcmg in place of the 
defective English engines, but before the work of altering the vessel 
to receive them was completed it was determined to fit her with com- 
pound engines, and the Epervier's engines were soon after shipped 
to the Norfolk navy yard for stowage. In 1876 they were exhibited 
at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia as an example of ex- 
cellence in navy yard work, and were thereafter stowed at the Nor- 
folk yard until as late as 1894, when an order was reluctantly given 
by the engineer-in- chief to break them up and make use of the mate- 
rial, the changes in marine engine practice having precluded the 
possibility of their ever being made use of. 

At the time Mr. Fox ordered a contract made for the engines of 
the Quinnebaug in England, a pair of 36" x 36" Isherwood engines 
for that vessel were practically completed at the Washington navy 
yard; there being thus no ship for this pair of engines they were 
sent to the Naval Academy in 1866 and erected in the new depart- 
ment of steam engineering at that institution, where they have re- 
mained ever since, a valuable object lesson originally to the cadet 
engineers of much that was excellent in marine engineering, but 
eventually transformed by the changing years into relics of what has 
been and is no more. 


Contracts were made this same year for the Pmta class of large 
iron sea-going tugs, designed to carry two guns and to be of general 
usefulness in the operations of war. The class embraced nine ves- 
sels in all, six being built by James Tetlow, Boston; two by Keany 
& Archbold, Chester, Pa., and one, the Triana, by Wm. Perrine, 
New York. Their cost complete varied from 184,640 to $128,000 
each. The principal dimensions were, length, 137 feet; beam, 26 
feet; displacement, 420 tons, and registered tonnage 350. Three of 
these steamers — the Fortune, Mayflower, sm.d<Standish — in after years 
became familiar and not especially beloved objects to the youth of 
the engineer corps as practice vessels for summer cruising from the 
Naval Academy. Two smaller tugs', the Pilgrim and Maria, of 
170 tons each, were also built in 1864 by contract, and several other 
smaller ones were undertaken at navy yards, the events of the war 
having shown the value of such vessels in carrying on warlike 

Continued Confederate successes with torpedoes finally forced 
the Navy Department to give attention to that weapon, on the prin- 
cipal of fighting the devil with fire, and proposals were issued 
inviting inventors to submit plans for boats and torpedoes to use 
with them. Many designs were submitted, from which those of 
Chief Engineer W. W. W. Wood and First Assistant John L. Lay 
were accepted and the work of constructing the boats and torpedoes 
begun under the direction of these engineers in the spring of 1864. 
Wood and Lay's plans embraced two projects; one of fitting large 
steam launches with a torpedo on a spar, and the other of building 
a regular armored torpedo boat like a small monitor and equipping 
it with a torpedo on the end of a long bar operated by steam, both 
of which plans were accepted. A number of steam launches were 
fitted out and supplied with torpedoes by Wood and Lay during the 
the summer- of 1864 and one of these was the boat placed at the 
disposal of Lieutenant Cushing and with which he sank the 

The spar was carried in suitable supports or crutches alongside 
the boat and could be run forward and the end submerged to the 
desired depth by attached ropes. The torpedo consisted of a 
cylindrical copper case held in a scoop at the end of the spar and so 
overlooped by a line that it conld be thrown out of the scoop when 


desired. It was only partly filled with powder, the remainder of the 
case being an air chamber separated from the powder by a partition, 
the two parts being so proportioned that the specific gravity of the 
whole was slightly less than that of water. Kunning down from 
the air-chamber end was a tube with a fulminate cap in its lower 
end near the bottom of the powder space and provided with a grape- 
shot held in the upper end by a pin working through a stuffing box, 
and to which a hauling line was attached. When used, the spar 
and torpedo were lowered under or near the object to be attacked 
and the torpedo thrown forward from the scoop by means of the 
first line. Its construction then caused it to float with the air end 
uppermost and with a tendency to rise to the surface or against the 
bottom of the attacked vessel. By pulling the second line the pin 
could then be withdrawn, causing the grapeshot to fall upon the cap 
and explode the charge of powder. Besides the torpedo these 
picket boats were armed with one 12-pounder boat howitzer mounted 
on the bow. 

The other plan resulted in the building of a torpedo boat by 
contract with Samuel H. Pook of New Haven, Conn., which was 
first named Sbromboli but soon afterward changed to Bpuytm Duyvil. 
To this vessel Lieutenant Commander Barnes, writing a treatise on 
submarine warfare, in 1868, referred to as " the most formidable 
engine of destruction for naval warfare now afloat of which the 
public have any knowledge." The contract for this boat, dated 
June 1, 1864, required that "for the consideration hereinafter men- 
tioned, he will construct upon the plan of Mr. Wm. W. W. Wood, 
Chief Engineer, U. S. Navy, a torpedo vessel in accordance with 
specifications herewith attached, of the following dimensions, viz : 
length of keel, 75 feet ; breadth of hull, 19| feet ; depth of hold 
9 feet more or less." As actually built the boat was 84 feet 2 
inches long ; 20 feet 8 inches extra beam ; 7 feet 5 inches draft 
and of 207 tons displacement. The total cost was 145,036.29. 

When going into action the draft was increased to about nine 
feet by admitting water into sinking tanks, thereby lessening the 
exposure above water. The deck was covered with three inches of 
iron ; the sides with five inches, and the pilot-house with five inches. 
The torpedo was the same in principle as the one fitted to the picket 
boats, but was so much larger that it was worked by machinery 


which ran the torpedo-bar out through a water-tight box and gate- 
valve in the bow, the detachment and firing of the torpedo being 
automatic when the extreme reach of the bar was attained, and at 
the same time the return motion of the bar was begun. When the 
bar had returned to its inboard position the gate-valve was closed, the 
water-box pumped out, which could be done in a few seconds, and 
everything was then ready for attaching another torpedo. The 
weight of the torpedo handling machinery was ten tons while that of 
the motive engine was only two and one-half tons. 

The Spwylen Duyvil was in service in the James Eiver dur- 
ing the last months of the war and had the honor of taking President 
Lincoln to Richmond when he visited that city after its abandonment 
by the enemy. She subsequently made extensive use of her torpe- 
does by blowing up the obstructions that had been placed in the 
river by both Union and Confederate combatants. After the war 
she remained for many years at the New York navy yard and was 
subjected to many improvements by her inventors, as well as serving 
for a series of experiments in torpedo warfare upon which much of 
our modern torpedo practice and knowledge is founded. 

The twenty light-draft monitors undertaken in 1863 began 
arriving at completion in 1864: and immediately revealed defects so 
serious as to destroy their usefulness. The history of these vessels 
is as unfortunate a chapter of errors as the annals of our navy during 
the war afford, involving as it does an account of much public money 
expended for which the nation received no benefit. So little atten- 
tion had been given to the displacement of the vessels that it was 
found they would float -with only three inches of freeboard instead 
of fifteen, as intended, a difference that practically ruined their effi- 
ciency. Various causes contributed to this result and none of the 
officials connected with their construction was entirely blameless, but 
the principal responsibility fell upon Chief Engineer A. C. Stimers, 
the general inspector of iron-clads, who had been given free scope 
by the Department to have the monitors built according to his own 

The matter was so serious that it became the subject of an in- 
vestigation by a committee of the House of Representatives and also 
by the joint Congressional Commission on the Conduct of the War: 
the latter investigation occupies 124 pages in volume III of the 1865 


series of that committee's report, and is a useful document to the 
historian and biographer, because by judiciously selecting extracts 
from it, as some writers have already done, it is easy to prove credit 
or culpability indifferently in the case of any individual concerned. 
As the object of this book is to call spades by their right names 
within the bounds of propriety and to tell the truth so far as it can 
be ascertained, the following outline of this unhappy story is given 
as the most probable version deducible from the mass of conflicting 
and in some cases decidedly spiteful testimony. In arriving at con- 
clusions the author has given especial weight to the testimony of 
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox, who was an official 
superior to the contractors and officers connected with the building of 
the vessels, was less apt to have any personal grudges or rivalries 
to ventilate. 

The need for light-draft armored vessels, especially for service 
on the Mississippi Kiver and its tributaries, impressed itself upon the 
Navy Department during the summer of 1862. Mr. John Ericsson 
was appealed to for designs and he decided that the proposed draft 
of water (four feet) was incompatible with impregnability. He after- 
ward furnished the Department with general plans for monitors of 
the required type, but of six feet draft, which he pronounced the 
least possible for vessels of the desired size, armor and battery. 
Ericsson being engrossed with the Puritan and Dictator and the Pas- 
saic class, as well as with the Canonicus class then being built from 
his designs, had little time for new work and his plans were 
turned over to Chief Engineer Stimers to be developed. Mr. Stimers 
was directed to establish an office in New York adjacent to that of 
Ericsson for convenience in consultation, and was given practically 
unlimited power in the matter of designs, inspection, authority to 
make changes, etc. , the Secretary of the Navy ordering him verbally 
not to trouble the Department with letters on technical matters but 
to judge and act for himself. 

Mr. Stimers proceeded on the line of his instructions so liter- 
ally as to lose the benefit of advice from the heads of the two 
mechanical bureaus of the Department — construction and steam 
engineering — neither of whom he consulted except informally when 
visiting Washington at intervals, and both of whom naturally felt 
aggrieved that a subordinate officer should be permitted to direct 


extensive work pertaining to them without being in any way under 
their control. Stimers in fact ruled a combined construction and 
engineering bureau of his own with a staff of assistants, draftsmen 
and clerks that was, as testified before the Congressional committee, 
almost as numerous as the total office force of all the bureaus of the 
Navy Department, and he was subject to no authority less than that 
of the Department. Rear Admiral F. H. Gregory, who was on the 
retired list, was on duty in New York as general superintendent of 
all ship and engine work being done by contract along the Atlantic 
coast for the navy and all correspondence had to be forwarded 
through his office, but as his naval service dated from 1809 it is not 
probable that he exercised any technical direction over steam vessels 
or steam engines. In fact, when the contracts for the light-draft 
monitors were made Admiral Gregory received an order from the 
Department informing him "very laconically," to quote from his 
testimony, that Mr. Stimers would have entire charge of all vessels 
building on the Ericsson plan. The admiral succeeded after a num- 
ber of months in getting this order so modified that Stimers had to 
forward all communications through him and obtain his approval, 
but, to depend upon the admiral's testimony again, Stimers went 
right on ordering changes and writing letters over his head. Mr. 
Stimers probably thought that in busy times action was more im- 
portant than red tape, and there is no doubt whatever that he had the 
tacit consent of the Department to hasten matters along by com- 
municating directly with the contractors in all technical matters. 

To add to the difficulty arising from Stimers' relations with the 
construction and engineering bureaus he fell out with his friend 
Ericsson about this time and this so nearly concluded their inter- 
course that Ericsson's opinions were thereafter seldom sought and 
never volunteered. The occasion of the estrangement was the un- 
sympathetic manner in which Stimers had tested Ericsson's friction 
gear on the Canonicus; a trifling matter for middle-aged men to 
quarrel about, but sufficient to cause Ericsson, proud, stubborn, and 
imperious as he was, to avoid his former friend and protege and 
leave him to his own resources. 

Many changes were made in Ericsson's original plans and many 
of these changes were of a nature to increase the weight and draft 
of the vessels. Instead of the boilers proposed by Ericsson a dif- 


ferent type with differential tubes, designed by Stimers himself, 1 
were adopted, and these, in the opinion of Ericsson, were twice as 
large and heavy as the size of the engines required, although Stimers 
claimed that they were designed to furnish steam for all the main 
and auxiliary' machinery in the ship should the unlikely occasion of 
using it all at the same time arise. The engines were considerably 
reduced in size, being finally made with cylinders 22 inches in 
diameter and 30 inches stroke of piston, one engine being placed on 
each side of the ship, inclined upwards, and driving a screw-shaft 
on the opposite side, the vessels all having twin-screws. After the 
first fight of the iron-clads with Fort Sumter it was decided to fit all 
the monitors then building with heavy base rings around the turrets, 
and this, in the case of the light-drafts, increased their weight about 
eighteen tons each, and also added much to the cost, the most of 
them being under contract before the change was ordered. The 
pilot-houses were also made thicker and heavier as a result of the 
experience gained in the Fort Sumter fight. 

The most important change was in fitting large tanks along the 
sides inside the vessels for carrying water to increase the draft pur- 
posely ; this was ordered by the Department on the urgent recom- 
mendation of Rear Admiral Joseph Smith, chief of the Bureau of 
Yards and Docks, the idea being that when the vessel grounded in 
shallow and little-known rivers, as would necessarily occur some- 
times, she could be quickly floated by pumping out these tanks. 
The intention was excellent, but the application of the idea to vessels 
of only 16 inches freeboard was of doubtful propriety as it involved 
much extra weight for the tanks, piping, valves, and pumping 
engines, not to mention the weight of water to be carried. 

A serious mistake involving additional weight was made in 
Stimers' office in calculating the weight of the oak deck and side 
timbers, of which latter especially there was an enormous mass. It 
appears from the testimony that the weight of seasoned white oak 
timber formed the basis for the estimates, no allowance being made 

* These boilers had the same differential sizing of tubes as those of the Canon, 
icus class illustrated in a former chapter, but the structural design was different. To 
make the boilers low enough to go into the shallow hulls, the tube boxes were placed 
between the furnaces, two of the latter being at each end of the boiler. 

















for the fact, then well enough known, that green timber would have 
to be used on account of the supply of seasoned oak ship timbers at 
<*« North being completely exhausted. The result of all the 
changes and errors was that when the first of the light-draft monitors 
— the Chimo — was launched she was found to draw about a foot 
more water than was intended, leaving her deck almost awash. The 
certainty that others of the class would possess the same fatal defect 
was a startling discovery to the Department and a cause of chagrin 
to Mr. Fox who had selected Chief Engineer Stimers for their super- 
intendence and who was chiefly responsible for the conferring upon 
him of power superior to the bureaus under whose cognizance their 
building properly belonged. The crying need for light-draft 
armored vessels in the Western rivers and the great things that had 
been promised from these monitors were well known to the public, 
and this made the failure more notorious and disappointing. 

Mr. Fox went immediately to New York and held a consulta- 
tion with Mr. Ericsson and Chief Engineers King and Wood as to 
what should be done, his desire being to remedy the defects if pos- 
sible and get monitors with which to make war, rather than to waste 
time in speculating as how the mistake had been made or who was 
to blame for it. It was decided that the only remedy was to build 
the vessels up about twenty-two inches, thereby still further increas- 
ing their draft with the added weight and lessening their usefulness 
for service in shallow waters, but which would give the country 
monitors that could be made of some use. This was done with 
fifteen of them at an additional cost of from $55,000 to $115,000 
each, varying with the degree of completion when the change was 
ordered. The water-tanks with their pipes and pumps were taken 
out of nearly all of them. This work of raising the sides of the 
vessels so delayed their completion that they were not finished in 
time to be of any service before the war came to an end, and their 
coat was therefore practically thrown away. 

The officer in command of the North Atlantic blockading squad- 
ron having asked for light-draft armored vessels to be used as tor- 
pedo boats in the North Carolina Sounds and James River, it was 
decided to equip five of these monitors for that purpose without their 
turrets and without building their decks up, which was done with 
those nearest completion when the fault in displacement was dis- 
















covered, they being fitted with spar-torpedo gear of the Wood-Lay 
invention. They had a gun mounted on deck forward without any 
protection for the men who would work it, a serious objection for 
service in narrow rivers within easy gunshot of the banks, and their 
speed was barely five miles an hour, which made their use as tor- 
pedo boats almost ludicrous. These five were in active service for 
several months before the end of the war, but their employment was 
of little use to the government. The others after being built up 
became reasonably good monitors for coast service and were sea- 
worthy, as appears from a report made by Acting Lieutenant Com- 
mander H. A. Gorringe, an excellent sea-officer, relative to a 
voyage of the Waxsaw from Hampton Roads to Philadelphia in 
January, 1866, although it was asserted by the opponents of Mr. 
Stimers that they would be worthless even after modification. 

Mr. Gorringe says: " We experienced during the whole passage 
fresh northerly winds, and a heavy swell from the southeast, which 
gave us an opportunity of testing the sea-worthiness of this class of 
monitor. I beg leave to add that the behavior of this vessel during 
the passage has increased the confidence I already had in the 
ability of this class of monitor to ride out safely a gale of wind. ' ' 

The responsibility .for this deplorable failure and waste of 
public money rests largely upon Chief Engineer Stimers, though 
not by any means so completely as 'the enemies of that officer 
charged. The added weights due to the heavy base-rings around 
the turrets, the water -ballast equipment, and increased armor on the 
pilot-houses, were not by his direction. The testimony before the 
joint Committee on the Conduct of the War developed the fact that 
the error in computing the weight of timber was committed by a 
draftsman in Stimers' office and that Stimers had not personally 
verified the calculations. In this he was of course to blame as the 
responsible official, in precisely the same manner that the commander 
of a ship is responsible for disasters due to the mistakes of the navi- 
gator or other subordinate officer. Although officially culpable, 
there is no evidence to show that the blunder resulted from personal 
incompetence on the part of Mr. Stimers, and there is much to 
prove that physical impossibility and not negligence was the cause 
of his failure to critically examine the work of his subordinates. 


Besides the twenty light-draft monitors, Mr. Stimers had under 
his general direction the building of a number of other iron vessels, 
the Ca/nonicus class especially, and he -was required to be absent 
from his office in New York much of the time visiting ship and 
engine works in many cities where these vessels were under con- 
struction. In the spring of 1863, just at the time when the plans 
for the light-drafts were being completed and the contracts being 
awarded, he was sent as superintending engineer to the iron-clad 
fleet off Charleston and was absent on that duty for two months. 
For four months during the summer of 1863 when his whole time 
should have been given to the new monitors his attention was largely 
occupied with the court of inquiry investigating the charges pre- 
ferred against him by Hear Admiral DuPont, which in itself was 
sufficient to distract his mind from his legitimate duties, as his 
reputation and commission in the navy were at stake. The report 
made by Senator Wade, the chairman of the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War, states the difficulties under which Mr. Stimers 
labored, and that report does not specifically fix the responsibility 
for the failure upon him. 

The Department detached Mr. Stimers from his duty as gen- 
eral inspector and put the work of completing the monitors in other 
hands; but beyond this nothing was done to punish him for his part 
in the affair. Assistant Secretary Fox wrote : "I cannot be too 
hard upon Stimers, who helped us in the first Monitor with so much 
zeal and courage." The shortcomings of Mr. Stimers in connec- 
tion with these vessels may properly be charged to an excess of am- 
bition. His connection with the Monitor had made his name well 
known throughout the country, and his subsequent responsible con- 
nection with the building of armored vessels had still further ex- 
tended his fame and associated his name with that of Ericsson as an 
exponent and champion of the new order of war ships. When, 
therefore, he was trusted by the Department with almost absolute 
power in the construction of the light-drafts, from which so much 
was expected that the whole country knew of them, he sought to 
achieve all the honor for their success by refusing advice from older 
and wiser men than himself, and in attempting too much came to 
disaster. His professional reputation was so well established, how- 
ever, that it was not overthrown by this failure, and at the close of 


the war he received such inducements as to resign his commission 
and enter upon practice as a consulting engineer in New York under 
the most favorable and prosperous circumstances. Not long there- 
after he fell a victim to an epidemic of small-pox and lost his life. 

As John Ericsson stood before the country as the inventor and 
sponsor of the monitor type of war-ship, and as his name was 
linked with the light-drafts and all other monitors, he received 
much public censure for their failure; a censure that was almost 
entirely undeserved. When asked by the joint committee in 
what relation he stood to the twenty light-draft monitors, he re- 
plied: " I have nothing whatever to do with those twenty monitors, 
directly or indirectly. " He did, however, furnish the original plans 
and some of his details were carried out; in his own testimony 
further on he said that the turrets were arranged very nearly accord- 
ing to his principle and instructions, and from his testimony and 
that of others it is proved that although he ceased intercourse with 
Stimers the draftsmen from the latter' s office frequently con- 
sulted him as to different details. It is true that he disapproved of 
almost everything shown him, but the fact admitted by himself that 
he was consulted is proof enough that he had some connection with 
the work, for no one who has any conception of his devotion to 
work and intolerance of interruption can believe that he would have 
given a moment of his time to anything that did not concern him. 
There is no doubt whatever that he knew that Stimers was sup- 
posed to be working under his direction, and the fact that a quarrel 
between them should have prevented the one from seeking advice 
and the other from insisting upon giving it, is not at all creditable to 

Although busily employed with the duties compelled by war, 
the naval engineers found time at the beginning of 1864 to prepare 
and submit to Congress a memorial asking for legislation in their 
interests in certain directions. This document was neatly gotten up 
in pamphlet form with a decorative cover embellished with engrav- 
ings of the Monitor and Wampanoag and a wreath made up of 
weapons of war and engineer's instruments — the arms and the tools 
symbolical of the naval and military engineer's calling. The me- 
morial asked for an increase of pay commensurate with that re- 
ceived by other officers of the navy and dwelt at length upon the 


desirability of establishing some regular system of education and 
training for tbe future engineers of the navy. Both objects were 
attained. Congress passed a bill, which received Presidential ap- 
proval July 4, 1864, establishing the course of instruction for cadet 
engineers at the Naval Academy and fixing a new rate of pay for 
engineer officers, amounting to an increase for all grades of about 
twenty-two per cent., the new rate being shown by the following 
extract from the act: 

"Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the number of chief 
engineers shall not exceed one for each first and second rate vessel 
in the navy, with such first, second, and third assistant engineers, or 
those acting as such, as the wants of the service actually require. 
And that from and after the passage of this act the annual pay of 
the engineer officers of the navy, on the active list, shall be as fol- 
lows: Every chief engineer on duty, for the first five years after 
the date of his commission, two thousand two hundred dollars. For 
the second five years after the date of his commission, two thousand 
five hundred dollars. For the third five years after the date of his 
commission, two thousand eight hundred dollars. After fifteen 
years after the date of his commission, three thousand dollars. 
Every chief engineer on leave or waiting orders, for the first five 
years after the date of his commission, one thousand five hundred 
dollars. For the second five years after the date of his commission, 
one thousand six hundred dollars. For the third five years after the 
date of his commission, one thousand seven hundred dollars. 
After fifteen years after the date of his commission, one thousand 
eight hundred dollars. Every first assistant engineer on duty, 
one thousand five hundred dollars. While on leave or wait- 
ing orders, one thousand one hundred dollars. Every second 
assistant engineer on duty, one thousand two hundred dollars. 
While on leave or waiting orders, nine hundred dollars. Every 
third assistant engineer on duty, one thousand dollars. While on 
leave or waiting orders, eight hundred dollars." 


"And the long mountains ended in a coast of ever-shifting sand, 

And far away the phantom circle of a moaning sea. 

There the pursuer could pursue no more, 

And he that fled no further fly the king ; 

And there, that day when the great light of heaven 

Burn'd at his lowest in the rolling year, 

On the waste sand by the waste sea they closed." 

Alfbed Tennyson. 

1865. The Civil War, Concluded — Loss of the San Jacinto — Second Attack on 
Fort Fisher — The Patapsco Destroyed by a Torpedo— Charleston Aban- 
doned by the Confederates — The Monitors Milwaukee and Osage Sunk — 
Loss of the Sciota and Ada — Eestoration of Peace — Some Naval Lessons of 
the War — Armed Merchant Vessels Unsuited for Operations of War — Casu- 
alties of the Engineer Corps During the Rebellion. 

THE last year of the great war began with a naval disaster, 
though one not due to the action of the enemy. The old and 
troublesome screw-steamer San Jacinto, under command of Captain 
K. W. Meade, father of the present rear admiral of the same name, at 
1.30 a. m. January 1st, struck on a reef between Green Turtle and 
No Name Keys and became a wreck, her guns and a considerable 
quantity of stores and equipment being saved by the crew, who 
camped on No Name Keys until taken north by the Tallapoosa. 
The San Jacinto had been attached to the East Gulf blockading 
squadron during the greater part of the war and had not had an 
occasion to achieve any particular distinction after the Trent affair 
in 1861. In 1863, while under repairs at New York, she had been 
made valuable use of by being turned over to a board of naval engi- 
neers for a competitive test of boilers, she having one each of the 
two types then standard — vertical water-tube and horizontal fire- 
tube. Similar experiments had been conducted with h^r boilers in 
1858, and the knowledge gained on the two occasions was of quite 
as much benefit to the country as any achievement in war by a vessel 
of her class could have been. 

On the 13th, 14th, and 15th of January, Bear Admiral Porter, 



acting in conjunction with Major General Terry and 10,000 troops, 
made a second and successful attack upon Fort Fisher, the adjacent 
fortifications on the river and Wilmington itself falling not long 
afterward as results of the victory. The naval force under Porter's 
command was the largest that has ever been in action under the 
American flag, as well as the most powerful fleet in men and guns 
that has been assembled for a hostile purpose in modern times. 
The main force consisted of forty-four war steamers, including 
almost all the largest vessels of war built for the U. S. Navy from 
the Powhatan and Susquehanna period down to that of the New Iron- 
sides and Monadnock, they being ranged in a line about a mile dis- 
tant from and parallel to the fortified shore line, upon which a 
continuous fire from hundreds of the heaviest guns then knowu was 
concentrated. Outside the line of battle lay a reserve division of 
fourteen smaller steamers not engaged in the bombardment but made 
use of in assisting and covering the landing of troops and in carry- 
ing despatches. The Neiv Ironsides and the four monitors named in 
a previous chapter as participating in the first attack upon this fort 
were stationed within about half a mile of the shore, from which 
position they used their heavy guns with terrible effect. The near- 
ness of their station made them targets for small arm as well as 
great-gun fire, but they suffered no damage except of a temporary 
nature to their light upper works and had very few casualties. On 
the Canonicus two men were wounded during the bombardment and 
Second Assistant Engineer John W. Saville was shot through both 
thighs by a grape-shot that had passed over the heads of the assault- 
ing party on shore and came aboard the vessel. On the Saugus one 
man only was injured, and he by the bursting of a XV-inch gun ; 
another XV-inch gun burst on the Mahopac but without injuring 

On the 15th, fourteen hundred sailors and marines were 
landed from the fleet to assault the sea face of Fort Fisher while 
the troops attacked from the land side, the combined assault result- 
ing in the capture of the enemy's works about ten o'clock that 
night. The naval brigade was obliged to land on a sand beach with 
no shelter or protection whatever and suffered severely without 
being able to gain the objective point, although its attack diverted 
the enemy from resisting in force the assault of the troops. The 


total loss of the navy was 309 — 74 killed; 213 wounded; 22 miss- 
ing, or nearly as many as at the battle of Mobile Bay. About one- 
third of these casualties occurred the morning of the 16th, after the 
fort had been taken possession of, by the accidental explosion of a 
powder magazine, the paymaster and an ensign of the Gettysburg 
being killed at this time. Assistant Surgeon "William Longshaw, 
who had on a previous occasion greatly distinguished himself by 
gallantry in the monitor fleet off Charleston, was killed in the assault 
of the 15th, he being shot while in the act of ministering to a 
wounded marine. Altogether seven officers were killed and about 
fifteen wounded in the Fort Fisher battle. 

The few following extracts from reports of commanding officers 
are selected from many of like tenor and will be sufficient to show 
that the engineer corps bore its full share in the battle both afloat 
and ashore . 

From the report of Commodore S. W. Godon of the Susquehanna : 

" Chief Engineer Johnson, with his entire department, are also 
entitled to my thanks; they not only performed their duties with 
proper spirit, but, in the absence of the portion of my crew forming 
the landing party, assisted at the guns as far as lay in their power. ' ' 

From the report of Commander E. Q. Parrott of the Monadnock : 

" Acting Chief Engineer J. Q. A. Zeigler, by faithfully watch- 
ing for symptoms of failing of the turret and other gear, and the 
application of timely and rapid repairs, enabled us to come out of 
the action in perfect order." 

From the report of Lieutenant Commander T. C. Harris of the Yantic : 
11 At 10.30 sent a landing party on shore, composed of forty- 
two (42) men, in command of Acting Ensigns J. C. Lord and S. T. 
Dedener, and Acting Third Assistant Engineer George Holton, with 
orders to report to Lieutenant Commander K. R. Breese, (fleet cap- 

. "Acting Third Assistant Engineer Holton was also 
a volunteer, and had charge of the entrenching party. I have 
learned that he was always in the advance, cheering the men on, 
and exposing himself in the most gallant manner. I think that he 
may be made a Third Assistant Engineer in the regular service." 


From the report of Lieutenant Comander D. L. Bravae of the Pequot : 

" To Second Assistant Engineer (in charge) A. H. Fisher I am 

much indebted, for without his skill and perseverance the ship would 

not have been in a condition to enter action without being towed." 

News of the victory of Fort Fisher was carried by a despatch 
vessel to Hampton Roads and thence telegraphed to Washington 
and the country. The senior officer at Hampton Roads, Commander 
E. T. Nichols, selected Second Assistant Engineer David P. Jones 
(now chief engineer, retired) to carry the information to General 
Grant at City Point, the dangerous journey up the James River, 
both banks of which were infested with outlying parties of the 
enemy, being performed at night and the despatches delivered in 
person by Mr. Jones to General Grant. For this important and 
extremely hazardous service Mr. Jones was highly complimented in 
personal and official letters by his commanding officer, and he might 
have received promotion for it had not his youthful modesty and 
ignorance of the methods of naval administration prevented him 
from following up his advantage with a claim for recognition. 

The night of January 15, the same day that the naval brigade 
was assaulting Fort Fisher, the monitor Pata/psco was destroyed by 
a torpedo with great loss of life in the harbor of Charleston. That 
night the Pata/psco was on duty as picket vessel in advance of the 
investing line of iron-clads and was engaged, as was the practice, 
in drifting with the tide up to a point abreast of Fort Sumter, then 
steaming back to station to again drift up. She had torpedo nettings 
rigged out and was preceded by picket boats dragging for torpedoes, 
but when arrived at her station after the third excursion a torpedo 
exploded under her about thirty feet from the bow, from the effects 
of which she sank in about thirty seconds. Five officers and thirty- 
eight men, the most of whom were on duty and therefore awake, 
were saved by boats from the Lehigh and in one of their own; the 
remainder of the crew, numbering sixty-two officers and men, went 
down with their ship. The engineer of the watch, Mr. DeWitt 0. 
Davis, was lost, the official report of the captain, Lieutenant Com- 
mander S. P. Quackenbush, saying that, " Third Assistant Engineer 
D. C. Davis remained nobly at his post when the ship went down." 
The officers saved were the captain, the executive officer and the 


officer of the deck, all whom were on duty on deck, and two en- 
gineers who happened to be on deck at the time of the disaster; 
those lost were three volunteer line officers, three engineers, the 
surgeon, and the paymaster, two of the engineers and the surgeon 
being of the regular service. The executive officer, Lieutenant W. 
T. Sampson, is now a captain and at present chief of the Bureau of 
Ordnance, Navy Department. 

First Assistant Engineer Reynolds Driver, senior engineer of 
the ship, distinguished himself by unusual heroism in the disaster, 
he, after persistently jeopardizing his life by remaining on the sink- 
ing ship trying to open the hatches to allow those below to escape, 
no less than twice while in the chilly water gave up pieces of wreck- 
age on which he was afloat to men more exhausted than himself, and 
was finally picked up under the walls of Sumter, after having pre- 
viously refrained from making an outcry when relief was near at 
hand lest the drowning should be neglected while he was yet able 
to swim. Afterward, when he appeared on the deck of the rescuing 
vessel, his conduct being known, he was greeted with cheers from 
the men and expressions of admiration from the officers, and there- 
after was treated with marked deference and respect by all with 
whom he was associated. He died at his home in New Oastle, Dela- 
ware, the year following the war. 

On the 18th of February the enemy abandoned Charleston as a 
military post, Rear Admiral Dahlgren taking possession of the city 
which he had besieged so long, and began at once directing from 
thence naval operations against the neighboring positions of the 
enemy. "With the fall of Charleston and Wilmington the downfall 
of the Confederacy was assured, and it became only a question of 
short time before the end would come. 

Although in the last ditch, the rebellion showed itself danger- 
ous to the end against the navy by the successful use of torpedoes. 
The river-built monitors Milwaukee and Osage were sunk in Blakely 
River, flowing into Mobile Bay, on the 28th and 29th of March by 
these weapons, the former without loss of life but the latter with the 
loss of three men killed and eight wounded. On the 1st of April 
the "tin clad " Rudolph met with destuction in the same river and 
by the same means, four of her men being killed and ten seriously 
wounded by the explosion. The ninety-day gunboat Sciota was sunk 


in Mobile Bay in the same way on the 13th of April with a loss of 
ten men killed and wounded. She was subsequently raised, repaired, 
and sold out of the service. The tug gunboat Ida was blown up 
the same day in Mobile Bay by a torpedo which exploded her boiler, 
killed the senior engineer, Mr. Sanford Curran, and two firemen, 
and wounded two others. This list of disasters was due to the ex- 
traordinary activity of the enemy in making use of this mode of 
warfare, the waters about Mobile Bay being literally full of these 
infernal machines, and to the slowness of the Federals in appreci- 
ating the need of guarding against them. 

Richmond was abandoned the 4th of April and was immedi- 
ately occupied by the military and naval forces, the surrender of 
General Lee's army soon afterward putting a practical end to the 
war. Although not a matter of historical importance, it is a fact 
that the first representative of the navy to enter Richmond after its 
surrender was a member of the engineer corps. Mr. Clark Thurston, 
now Vice President of the American Screw Company of Providence 
Rhode Island, was at that time a third assistant engineer attached 
to the James River torpedo service under charge of Chief Engineer 
Alexander Henderson, and being fired by a youthful love of ad- 
venture left his post of duty at Dutch Gap when he heard of the fall 
of Richmond and proceeded alone in a skiff to the city, spending a 
day there without knowing how to account for himself, before the 
arrival of Admiral Porter with President Lincoln. Mr. Thurston 
subsequently spent two weeks under arrest for being absent without 
leave but that does not detract in the least from his distinction of 
having been the first of the navy to enter the enemy's capital. 

When peace was assured, the Navy Department at once set 
about disbanding the great navy that had been called into existence; 
all new ship and engine building work was stopped; volunteer 
officers and men were discharged as fast as possible and returned to 
the industries of peace, while immediate steps were taken to effect 
the sale of all vessels purchased for naval purposes as well as many 
that had been built expressly for the navy. All the better class of 
purchased ' steamers readily found buyers, for with peace came a 
revival of our shipping industry hastened in no small degree by the 
return to civil pursuits of a large sea-faring element, it not being 
unusual for the volunteer officer to take advantage of the bargains 


offered to provide himself with a vessel with which to begin life 
again. Of the steamers built expressly for war purposes the double- 
enders, and especially the ninety-day gunboats, were found to be 
well adapted to commercial purposes, they being of a size and 
draft of water suitable for river and coastwise traffic, and the most of 
them were readily sold. Although generally preserved as steamers, 
some of the gunboats were converted into sailing vessels and em- 
ployed in the ocean carrying trade; one famous little gunboat, the 
Kennebec, was altered into a bark and was lost on her first voyage. 

Some of the naval lessons of the Civil War are quite as perti- 
nent to-day as they were thirty years ago and will be valuable if 
heeded when the next war comes. It is sometimes claimed that 
war- ships and naval methods have so changed within the past gen- 
eration that we cannot hope to again get officers and men from the 
merchant marine who will as easily adapt themselves to naval con- 
ditions or become as efficient as did the men of 1861, but this is an 
imaginary rather than a real source of anxiety. The changes in 
appliances and construction of war- vessels have had their counter- 
part in commercial steamers and the two classes of vessels bear to- 
day the same relation that existed between them thirty years ago, 
while the officers and men of both services have developed in par- 
allel lines to meet the altered conditions: to claim, therefore, that 
the master, mate or seaman of the present time is incompetent to 
learn the gunnery drill and routine of a modern man-of-war is 
equivalent to charging our sea-faring citizens with intellectual 
deterioration since the war, or is an attempt to obscure with difficulty 
and mystery the administration of rather every-day and common- 
place duties about which there can be no secrets. 

If the man-of-war's-man has put away the marline-spike and 
serving-mallet and taken up the monkey-wrench and coal-shovel in 
their stead, as is admitted with regret or satisfaction according to 
the point of view, by all attentive to naval matters, the very same 
change has come over the merchant sailor, and by every common- 
sense reason he is fully as fit for the duties of a man-of-war as was 
his predecessor fit for the naval life of his time, and our war 
showed that that fitness was sufficient. Furthermore, the changes 
in appliances on board war-ships is such that a much broader field 
is now open for the recruiting of a suitable enlisted personnel than 


formerly existed, when activity aloft and familiarity with ships' 
rigging were the necessary attributes of a seaman. On the modern 
war-vessel the machinist, the blacksmith, the boiler-maker, the 
copper-smith, and craftsmen of many other mechanical trades, can 
all find more to do and be infinitely more useful than the men 
whose usefulness is based upon ability to furl sails and splice ropes. 
Thus, instead of being limited to the merchant marine for a supply 
of seamen, the navy now has the whole vast field of the mechanic 
arts open and preferable for the purpose. 

There is no mystery about the modern rifled gun, the torpedo, 
or the rapid-firing machine-gun; all are purely and simply machines 
constructed upon ordinary mechanical principles, a knowledge of 
which can be more easily acquired by a man who is already a 
mechanic than by one who is a sailor. Nor can it be claimed that 
the use of these modern appliances is more difficult to learn than 
was that of the older and ruder type of gun, for it is a matter of 
common remark by naval officers that the gunnery drill of to-day is 
in every respect more simple than it was twenty or even ten years 
ago. An ideal fighting crew for a modern ship would be composed 
of young mechanics from the machine shops and engine works of 
the country, enlisted as soldiers or marines if the application of the 
name of seaman to them is too violent an encroachment upon an- 
cient traditions, drilled with the weapons they are to use until they 
become familiar with them, and habituated to the sea life by going 
to sea, just as other men get used to it, sea-sickness and all, for a 
year or two. Such men would handle their machine weapons with 
intelligence and precision, and would be able to repair and re-adjust 
them in the days following a battle, instead of looking on while the 
engineer's force does the work for them. 

For officers in case of another great expansion of the navy in 
sudden emergency we will have to turn as we did before to the 
merchant marine, for however desirable the mechanic may be as an 
operative of machine weapons, the men who are to handle ships and 
control their propelling machinery must be found among those who 
have had long experience in such work. The masters, mates and 
engineers of our commercial steamers will be found in the next war 
quite competent to carry on their vocations in the navy and doubt- 
less as willing to do it as were their predecessors. The surroundings 


on a man-of-war may be somewhat more formal and theatrical than 
those to which they are accustomed on their own ships, but their 
duties will not be so much more difficult as to be impossible. The 
writer does not claim that such officers would be as perfect in all 
things as those who have been trained from youth for the naval ser- 
vice, for training and experience in any calling tend toward perfec- 
tion, but he submits as a belief derived from the record of the 
volunteer element in the navy during the Civil War that they would 
be found sufficiently capable both above and below decks to guaran- 
tee an honorable and worthy guardianship of their country's flag. 

Satisfactory as was the behavior of the officers and men drawn 
into the navy from the merchant marine during the rebellion, the 
same cannot be said of the vessels obtained from the same source. 
Indeed, if any one point in naval warfare is sharply emphasized by 
the events of that war, that point is that vessels built for commercial 
purposes are unsafe and absolutely unfit for war operations. In the 
foregoing chapters a few only of very many disasters to ships in 
action have been mentioned ; the most casual reader must have 
noticed, however, that the cause of disaster has been in almost all 
cases the same — namely, unprotected machinery. One of the most 
humiliating incidents of the war was the quick destruction of the 
Hatteras by the Alabama, and that event is an excellent illustration 
of this point. After confidently chasing an unknown vessel until 
lured beyond the reach of help from her consorts the Hatteras was 
suddenly turned upon and at once disabled by a shot striking her 
walking-beam, poised in the air apparently as a target and a temp- 
tation for attack by a weaker foe. With the ability to move taken 
from her, she fell an easy prey to the enemy, and her fate is simply 
one of many provoked by similar vulnerability. 

With the change in building material, the increase in speed, 
etc. , the commercial steamer has about kept pace with the develop- 
ment of the gun, so that now, when no slow wooden steamers with 
overhead beam engines would be thought of for use in war, the re- 
lation between the ship and the gun is practically the same as it was 
in 1861-65. We may therefore expect to see our merchant steam- 
ers reasonably efficient as cruisers or blockaders when again called 
into service, but almost certainly doomed to destruction when 
obliged to fight with a properly built and armed vessel of war. 


Our armored cruisers and protected cruisers of the present day do 
not furnish a complete safeguard for their vitals against the fire of 
modern guns, but in that respect they may be said to be quite as 
safe, probably more so, than were the regularly built vessels of the 
war period. Such casualties to machinery as occurred to the Rich- 
mond, the Sassacus, and the Oneida were exceptions with naval ves- 
sels, although the rule with commercial steamers when brought 
within range of the enemy's guns, and in another war we may look 
for such disasters occasionally to protected and armored cruisers in 
spite of their protection. The curved protective deck over engines 
and boilers as now supplied may be relied upon for protection 
against the fire of any except heavy guns, but a shot or shell from 
the latter must be expected to break through this shield, and then 
we will experience a disaster like that of the Oneida at Mobile, and 
in more frightful degree. In fact, a dread of the intensely horrible 
makes one shrink from speculating as to what would happen in a 
modern closed fire-room when a boiler or steam pipe is pierced. 

Not long since public attention was quite generally drawn to a 
discussion as to the relative merits in war of swift naval cruisers and 
armed merchant steamers, a considerable party, including even 
naval officers of experience, claiming that the latter were the most 
desirable, being faster, and, as was claimed, capable of carrying 
batteries sufficiently heavy to be able to fight the cruisers on equal 
terms. An examination of the structural differences of the two 
classes, considered in connection with the actual experience in war 
of the prototypes of each, should be conclusively convincing of the 
absolute superiority of the cruiser. Neither vessel is expected to 
carry very heavy guns, but in this respect the cruiser will in all 
probability have the advantage, being built in the first instance to 
carry guns rather than passengers and freight. Admitting, how- 
ever, that a typical vessel of each class will have the same battery, 
the cruiser would still have a marked advantage in the structural 
protection to her vitals, the machinery of her antagonist being not 
only unprotected but, in the case of the engines at least, so much 
higher as to be well above the water-line and a target which none 
but a blind gunner could well miss. 

This point cannot be better emphasized than by a few diagrams 
in illustration. Figures 1 and 2 represent transverse sections of 



the cruiser Columbia, an excellent modern instance of a swift naval 
cruiser, showing the location of her engines and boilers with reference 
to the water-line and the steel protective deck. Figure 3 shows the 
same, minus the protective deck, for the English-built ocean "grey- 
hound " Paris of the International Navigation Company, which 
may be taken as typical of the arrangement common in a great 
number of fast mail steamers of different lines. A different and 
more recent arrangement is that of the latest steamers of the North , 
German Lloyd's, adopted also in the Campcmia and I/acarm of 
the Cunard line, which economizes fore-and-aft space by placing the 

CMiBr £t/ewee*s 

Figure 3. 


high-pressure cylinders over the low-pressure. The large Ounarders 
named have five cylinders to each engine, the intermediate pressure 
m the center and a tandem pair of high and low pressure cylinders 
at each end ; the height of these engines from bed- plate to top of high- 

Figtjrb 4. 

pressure cylinders is forty-seven feet, and the foundation framing 
under them is eight feet in depth. Therefore they stand, when the 
ship is drawing thirty feet of water, to a height of twenty- five feet 
above the water-line, making with their fore-and-aft extent a target 
25x34 feet in any part of which a shot or shell would most surely 


Figure 5. 

disaable one engine and probably both; this, furthermore, without 
reckoning the danger to steam, exhaust and receiver pipes leading 
to and from the cylinders. The same target in the case of the Paris 
would be 38x16 feet, both graphically illustrated in figures 4 and 5. 
The boilers of these steamers are below the water line, but without 
any protection for themselves or their pipe connections against 
glancing shot or bursting shells. 

It is hardly necessary to match the Columbia against the typical 
swift merchant steamer in this argument; a much smaller cruiser 
with protected machinery — the Baltimore for example — might be 
expected to disable her quite as easily if engaged; and she probably 


would be engaged if sighted at all, for it would require a degree of 
moral courage far greater than most men possess to run away from 
her with a ship three or four times her size which happened to be 
speedier. The Baltimore or other cruiser might be expected to 
suffer severely in her upper works and personnel from the quick- 
firing guns of the mail steamer, but the chance of her receiving a 
disabling blow before giving one would be so remote as not to 
deserve consideration. 

Such protection to machinery as could be furnished by tempo- 
rary expedients on board the merchant steamer cannot be relied upon 
as any more useful against modern guns than were similar efforts 
available against the guns of the Civil War period. The Keystone 
State was a fine example of the better class of merchant vessels 
armed for naval service in 1861, and for the better protection of her 
steam drums barricades were built about them, in addition to which 
it was customary to stow coils of hawsers, bales of cordage, and 
other material abreast of the drum-rooms. In spite of all this pro- 
tection it will be recalled that a single shot from a Confederate ram 
penetrated the drums, scattering' death and destruction in its wake 
and so crippled the ship that she nearly surrendered, being saved 
from that misfortune only by the zeal and professional knowledge 
of her chief engineer. 

The instances of invaluable professional and military services 
rendered by the officers of the engineer corps, regular and volunteer, 
during the Civil War that have been mentioned in the foregoing 
chapters are a few only of the many on record in the official reports 
in the Navy Department, but it is hoped that they are sufficient to 
redeem from error every fair-minded person who may have been led 
to believe from partisan arguments that the engineer officers of the 
navy occupy a non-combatant status, or that the engineer corps is not 
a necessary and essentially military arm of the naval service. The 
truth of this must be known even to those who imagine it to be to 
their interest to deny it ; it was freely admitted by scores of com- 
manding officers who had experience in war and who did not 
hesitate to do honor in their official reports to whom it was due irre- 
spective of corps. Its frank admission now would relieve the engi. 
neer corps from an aspersion under which its members have smarted 
much too long, and would amount to nothing more than a generous 


admission of a truth unquestioned by the great majority of the citi. 
zens of this republic. 

During the four years of the war one hundred and fifteen offi- 
cers of the engineer corps are recorded as having died in the serv- 
ice, the majority of them being killed in battle or died from wounds 
or exposure incident to their duty. In proportion to the numbers 
employed it is believed that no other corps suffered so severely. 
The actual deaths and injuries of engineers inflicted by violent 
means during the same period are given in the following table, 
which has been compiled from the casualty book of the rebellion 
kept in the office of the Surgeon General of the navy, and which is 
generally very accurate, although the author's attention has been 
called to a few casualties that are not recorded in the book re- 
ferred to : 


John M. Whittemore . 

May land Cuthbert 

Stephen Mealius 

Samuel Brooks 

Sidney Albert 

Andrew Nesbitt 

Walter Bradley 

Frank R. Hain 

S. WilkinB Cragg 

John C. Huntley 

Eugene J. Wade 

J. D. Williamson , 

Jas. B. Kimball 

Jackson McElmell 

John Cox 

John C. McAfee 

G. W. Hollingsworth. 
Richard M. Hodson .. 

Joseph Huber 

W. J. Reid 

John A. Hill 

John Wall 

Francis C. Dade 

Wm G. Smoot 

Albert W. Morley 

R. W. Hands 

Samuel A. Lewis 

Nicholas Meislang 

A. B. Campbell 

W. R. Green 

Wilbur F. Fort 

Erastus Barry 

Jas.S. Turner 

J. E.Fallon 

Henry Sullivan 

John Huff 

Wm. Wright 

James McNally 

Bobt. Laverty 

Thos. Mallahan 

John Healy 

Simon Shultice 

John Brooks 

F. I. Bradley 


John Munroe 

Samuel T. Strude 

Chas. J. Morgan 

John B. Edwards 

Wm. G. Pendleton 

H. W. Merriman 

Aug. Mitchell 

Geo. W- McGowan 

Chas. Spangberg 


3d Asst. 'Engr. /-'■ 
3d"Asst. Engr. 
2d Asst. i Engr. 
2d Asst. Engr. 
2d Asst. Engr. '"" 
3djAsst. Engr. 
Act. 3d Asst. Engr 
Act. 3d Asst. Engr 
2d Asst. Engr. 
3d Asst. Engr. 
Act. 3d Asst. Engr 
Act. 2d Asst. Engr 
Chief Engr. 
1st Asst. Engr. 
Act. Chief Engr. 
Act. 2d